Friday, June 26

Where Did That Naughty Little Flea Go?

(Tom this morning was showing me youtube clips of Miriam Makeba, that's where this title comes from, a nice little number by South African singer)

so hello, I am back!
Back from very many places. The Camino de Santiago, the end of the world, the end of my nine month's trip (which ended and didn't end), a short (short) stay stateside. I am back in Cork, for the third ('turd' here) time. Turd time's a charm. And Michael Jackson is dead. Aye, dios mio.

I am living in a house eight minutes' walk from the center of Cork City. My housemates are Tom, Alix, and Gerry. Alix is twenty-two, french, born in the south of France and raised mostly in Paris. She has been living in Cork for the last nine months (yeah we like to do things in lengths of gestation) and is going back to France on Sunday. She sings with one of the most stunning voices you've ever heard. She and Tom play most Tuesday nights in a pub called the Castle Inn, and when she took the guitar and started singing there the other night, everyone stopped what they were doing and forgot what they were saying. To just listen to her. It seems a normal enough thing, but people seemed to stop in a way they'd never stopped before. To listen. Her friend wove long braids into her hair for eighteen hours so that when she travels down into Spain and Portugal and Morocco this summer, she won't have to worry about it. The first night I met her, she was with the gypsy band I fell in love with, sitting in the red common room of the house with all its books and paintings and wooden chairs and old cushions, and she was singing Elliot Smith's Between the Bars, in this smoky voice but she had to read the words from the paper because she can't remember them all. In the Castle Inn she forgot the words and kept repeating the line

''well I'm seeing you there, with your hands in the air
waiting to finally be caught''

She studied philosophy, my beautiful friend, and she has beautiful thoughts in her head. Mostly we understand each other without talking very much. It's Tom who does most of the talking. He is a strapping and pleasant Irish fellow of thirty-two, not from Cork but some small town somewhere. He has been living in Cork for a while, and the house is brimming with his ideas. He has tons of books, old books, in languages he can't necessarily read, paintings done on cardboard, collected little items (postcards, figurines), records, things that have been fixed, patched, pieced together, pieces of things waiting to be used for something, dust and the occasional bumblebee. Musical instruments! A seventeen-year-old cat named Rizla who slept on my bed the first night and to whom I am miraculously minimally allergic. Tom plays the guitar and sings, just like everyone else but me. But I am learning to sing and be happy anyway. Gerry is the music student anyway, or he just graduated university with a degree in music. I don't know him yet, he is usually not around. But we did sit outside yesterday noon when we'd all woken up and Tom made coffee and porridge and read me the crossword clues on a blanket in the yard. That's when he told Gerry who was sitting in the shade with a hat and sunglasses that he looked like Michael Jackson. And this was, obviously, before anyone know that Michael Jackson was dead. He wasn't dead yet.

The other evening after I spent the day in town, set up my cell phone and everything, we took bikes down to a little field by the river. There was a small herd of horses we passed on the way out, a tiny little foal not more than a month old I think that ran right across our path, a lovely little piebald, which is a type of pinto according to the crossword. Tom and Tom (a Scottish artist who makes painting after painting of clowns in a Danielle Steel book whose pages he primed for water pastels) went swimming and Alix and I ate strawberries. We played with a little soccer ball, I looked at Tom's art, listened to them playing music, and we ate a picnic and went into town as it was getting dark, had a pint in the pub where I saw Txutxukan play the last time two weeks ago.

We went to The Roundy again last night. There was a band of four women playing various kinds of folk music, although for one song a man from the audience joined them and sang Shalom Aleichem, which was totally random. I understand a Catholic country slightly better after the Camino. And what else? Outside, just after we heard about Michael, we saw a group of four or five people our age reading a play out loud, wearing costumes, just for fun. We joined them. I played Soldier 3, Tom was Soldier 1, and Alix took pictures because she says she can't read English so well. I can't remember the play or anything I was reading. Tom has a really nice anthology of poetry called Staying Alive, and he and I have been reading to each other from it. The house is full of music and poetry! I am learning about all the jazz greats from the thirties and forties, watching really pleasing old video clips of them on Tom's computer at night before bed. And this morning of course was spent watching Billie Jean, Thriller, old ones of the Jackson 5 when Michael was so little but already his body was starting to move in that funny way that he seemed to have no control over, and some of the news casts.

Last night in the bathroom of another pub, there was a really drunk girl who came out of the stalls crying, a bit wild. She kept saying ''You don't know, I miss him, I can't explain to you, I just love Michael so much, my boyfriend is jealous because I am so upset.'' On and on, uncontrollable sobbing. Alix kind of looked at her and was like, ''Do you want a hug?''

It is good to be here. I am not sure how long I will stay in Cork. For the moment, I have a nice room to myself. Tom's cousin Rosie is in Portugal until the end of July, so I am staying in her place, a big room with wooden floors, big windows looking over the city, her clothes on every available surface, lots of books, big bed, cat. Not a bad setup, all in all. Summer. The weather has been really wonderful, hot and sunny, and today I was even glad to have a cloudier day. I could use a little rain, but not too much.

I am thinking of everyone and feel that I am not so far away, like before. I will miss being at the beach in Destin this weekend. I will miss fourth of July things. But I have free calling to the states and am, like, so connected. You will be hearing from me.

Happy Birthday Hulia :)

Wednesday, June 17