The contrast between Delhi, NY and South Beach, Miami was equivalent in comparison to the nervous breakdown I was on the verge of having when I left , and how I feel currently. This trip was exactly what the doctor prescribed. I've come to realize over time how much of a loner I can be. Introverted from time to time, is my way of reflecting and assessing life at face value. With life happening so fast, I find that It's become easier to overlook all of its small, yet important details.
My trip began the moment my best friend picked me up at Fort Lauderdale airport. We begun to catch up on the forty minute drive to South Beach, where conversation continued, and where we also dined and met my sister at Barton G. My sister as ever always, made sure that we were treated like royalty, as we over indulged on Prosecco and fancied over priced appetizers. Until seven in the morning we remained awake and consuming until our eyelids began to weigh and our livers began to curse. Naturally, we awoke to a late start the following day, with an agenda to have a girls evening consisting of manicures and pedicures, followed by a beautiful dinner with an ever most outstanding rooftop view of the Miami skyline at Lincoln Road's Juvia. A second night of fine dining, and some of the best cuisine my tongue's ever tasted, we indulged on multiple courses and champagne in the presence of my sister's close friends whom were gathered to welcome my visit.
Long bike rides in the sun and along the beach became a part of my morning routines, as typical, during my stay. The sun beating on my shoulders, and the warm breeze sifting through my hair as I pedaled my way through traffic and past name brand boutiques, was both liberating and tranquil. It was the perfect calm after the storm which I was seeking, away from everything and everyone I knew. My head was noisy, and I needed quiet. I needed to write, to re-evalutate, and to confront the demons antagonizing my thoughts and probing at my heart. As the days passed, so did my anxiety and depression.
Wednesday night my father flew into Miami from Long Island, which gave my sister and I opportunity to get in some quality family time. We spent Thursday together poolside, and meandering South Beach and Ocean Drive by foot, hopping from art gallery to art gallery, stopping for a bite to eat to enjoy Mojitos and live music at Monty's on the water, and then touring Versace's Mansion. Later that weekend we explored more inland, and were guided by a friend who opened our world to the Miami Art Walk. My goodness, was this amazing. It literally was a painted city, consisting of old condemned warehouses morphed into studio spaces and art galleries (over 40 art galleries) housing both the art of established, and emerging artists within the area. We walked around for about 3-4 hours, and still hadn't even touched an entire section of the Art Walk.
By Friday I felt strong, revitalized, and ready to play music. I took my Ovation to tourist haven Ocean Drive, and then Lincoln Road. There, I sang my heart out for curious onlookers, and visitors whom by the days end, filled up my guitar case with $74 extra dollars worth of spending. Busking is something I've only recently begun to do, but can not get enough of. It truly is such an exhilarating feeling. At two different points I drew a crowd of listeners. Several thumbs up, and smiles of approval came from children, adults, natives, tourists, and from people of several different cultures, genders and races. I love busking because it incorporates two things which I enjoy most in life: (1) Playing music and (2) People Watching. The most unlikely people would stop by and listen. Tons of people were taking pictures and smiling, children were mesmerized. In those fragmented moments, I wanted to understand what they were thinking, what their purpose in Miami was, what their plans were for the rest of the day? My only way to communicate to them was through song and with a nod of the flower in gratitude.
One thing was for certain, however, and that was that I had suddenly become a part of a strangers memory. When they look back through their photos, I will be in their negatives, because I became an unexpected part of their day that was not only picture worthy, but worthy of their spare change. Little did they know, that just as I was becoming a part of their memory, they were becoming a part of mine. I met such interesting people, people with stories you wouldn't believe. People of true character, and with an honest disposition of living for true fulfillment, as defined by them.
Truth is, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I hadn't found one other person out on the streets doing what I was doing, and I believe people actually appreciated me for bringing art to their streets. It felt amazing, it felt gratifying, I felt appreciated. It's not like any ordinary gig at a bar, restaurant or club which people frivolously expect to be entertained. I believe it's the unexpected on both counterparts which makes it a unique experience. Each dollar earned is passed on with respect and admiration for having had taken the chance, and for the confidence to walk out to the streets practically naked (just guitar and minimal amplification).
I played a total of three street performances by my trips end. Twice in Miami, and once at Ft. Lauderdale beach.
What I've gathered and learned through this entire experience is how crucial "making a connection" is. On the streets you have very little time to do that. I'm singing to the open air initially, but when the people come, I have a split second to hook them in, slow them down, or to at least make them turn back around. Music truly is powerful in that sense, which people of all different status and backgrounds are conglomerated under one common denominator. It is such an honor and a blessing to be granted the ability to connect with people on that level. I really am just so damn lucky.
Although I'm not eager to trade in flip flops for snow boots, I'm looking forward to closing in on Winter and blossoming into a warmer Spring season. I have returned back to New York with a clear head, and an eagerness to dive forward into an infinite blank canvas, leaving colorful footprints and splattering paint as I make my way through this black and white world.