Me Myself&I

Midd-city kids

I was playing my bass guitar last weekend, as usual. But this time I had a visit from my friend’s son and his little cousins.

When I’m about to play, things get quiet in my mind. No thoughts. Pure focus. Rhythm, I’m holding it. Melody, I’m playing it. Harmony, I’m observing it. I disappear in plain sight, closing my eyes and letting it all out through my fingers while I smile and think about the next 8 bars and hopefully, don’t forget about the break.

The cousins were watching. After my traditional hour of practice, I relax my shoulders and hear a faint and cute “bonjour” outside.

I know it’s them and It’s so I N T E N S E.

Five black children age 5 to 12, in front of me, asking me questions about guitars and Eiffel Towers. The wah pedal leaves them speechless.

What they don’t know is how profound that whole thing is to me. It’s always a challenge to retrieve my speech after playing my instrument. I think music and language are using the same parts of the brain and it takes me a few minutes to get back to actual talk. And, they’re black kids.

I’ve never had black children around me. I was always the only one, and once I was an adult in France, I had white children around me. No more. The default is black now.

They’re standing there smiling and giggling for no reason other than being adorable and I want to grab them one by one, play with them for hours and at some point, hold them hard against me and tell them what I wanted to hear from a black person when I was their age, but never got.

“you’re beautiful” “you’ll be alright” “observe the world” “be good, be nice, be the best you can be” “dude, where’s my car?”

That kind of stupid shit.

Black kids always make me breathe so deeply.

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