There's a homeless man who has lived on my street for many more years than I have. He goes by the name Carwash. He rides his bicycle up and down the street and gets by doing odd jobs for my neighbors and I plus the help of the nearby church. Sometimes in the very early morning he whistles eerie but beautiful symphonies as he cycles. His song has come to feel like the soundtrack of Mead Street in my head.
I wake up around 5am every day. Usually its because of my cat Eek standing on my chest meowing loudly for me to let him outside (a horrible, horrible habit that I cannot seem to break him of), or my chronic light sleeping and insomnia that doesn't allow for more than 3 consecutive hours asleep. This morning though, I woke up to Christmas songs in my head.
Listening closer, I realized I actually could hear music. It was pure, impeccably in-tune whistling. It was Jingle Bells, and it was of course, Carwash. After completing Jingle Bells, he didn't miss a beat going into Silver Bells. Then it was Joy to the World. I laid in bed and drifted back to sleep to his singular perfect notes floating through the air.
One night, as my friend and I were pulling out of my street to go to dinner, I saw Carwash sitting in his usual plastic chair on the sidewalk in front of my neighbor's house. To my surprise, he had a barbecue going in front of him. He was hanging out and cooking sausages! He was alone and clearly enjoying himself. My friend and I laughed hard; this sort of scene is exactly why I love Atlanta so.
When I got home later that night I chatted with him for a minute. He commented on the beautiful night sky and the stars we rarely get to see through our thick city smog. I couldn't help but think of Oscar Wilde writing:
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
When I asked Carwash how he was doing and how his night was, he simply replied, "Blessed."
This morning when I was leaving for work I saw Carwash on his bike which he has decorated with a sprig of holly (possibly from the bush in my front yard) across the handlebars. When I asked him how he was doing this December morning, he replied again, "Blessed."
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