Today was my first experience busking. Busking is a word I never even knew before I started traveling. It means playing music on the streets for money. Here, in Ireland in general and in Cork especially, it is kind of the norm. Seems like everyone goes out busking at least every once in a while, and on a nice day you'll see a lot of buskers around town. Maybe there are twenty of them at any given time in the center of Cork. Tom goes busking when he's a bit strapped for cash and today I joined him. I took some paper and watercolor pastels and set up a little stand next to him to make portraits of people. I only ended up getting one buyer, but I didn't expect to get any so that's all right with me. I got a fiver for it, and that helped pay for dinner! It's fun anyway. We stayed out for a couple of hours, and Tom ran through a bunch of traditional Irish songs and started in on stuff by Tom Waits and then some old blues tunes. It takes guts to belt out the song while people are just passing by, looking at the open guitar case on the ground and then quickly looking away. You can never tell who is going to dig in their pocket for a second and throw something in. Sometimes it's a young kid walking by, maybe someone who's done some busking of their own. And sometimes it's a proper-looking gentleman walking with a well dressed woman who looks foreign. We met a lot of people, and saw a lot of the Cork regulars who ramble around town every day. There are the tourists too, and a lot of them. Mostly French I think. People who are here for a couple of days with their families or partners, looking for churches and museums to go to, though honestly there isn't much to see by way of tourist attractions. We talked with a German woman and an American woman who were traveling together. They stopped to ask us directions and ended up chatting for a while. Then Luke came along, a musician and acquaintance of Tom's. He's the one who asked me to do his portrait. It turned out okay, though I had trouble doing his masses of perfect ringlet curls.
In the end we only made about twenty euros in a few hours, but it was enough to go to the English market and buy some nice veggies. I loved using these vegetables we had earned that day (well veggies Tom had earned, mostly) to make a nice dinner. Cabbage, carrots, eggplants, and tomatoes under a delicious thick peanut sauce, with fresh seedy bread and red wine. One of the things I enjoy most here is spending time cooking in the little yellow kitchen with the public radio station playing jazz tunes or classical and a constant stream of tea from the kettle. So pleasant.
Busking, however, will not sustain me! I know it is time soon to look for something more. A job or new studies or something like that. To commit something instead of floating the way I have been floating, floating for a long time now. I have too many lives to choose from. In America, I wanted to be back here, and now here I want to go back to something there. But I don't know what exactly. Next week I head to Paris for a week or so, where I'll see Bonnie and stay with Alix. At Vibes and Scribes in the used books sections upstairs, I found a little 3 euro book in French called Viou, about a little girl growing up in a small town in her grandparents' big house after the Second World War. I am really pleased that I can understand about eighty percent of the book. It being written from the point of view of a seven-year-old helps, for sure, but still. I can tell my French has steadily improved. After Paris, I'd like to go and visit Natalie (the French girl I met here in Cork back in October) in her little town on the coast in Bretagne.
But one thing at a time. This weekend, Jordan is coming back to visit! We only saw each other for a couple of hours last time, since she was in transit to Dingle. But this time she'll come and stay in the house with us and we'll get to have a really nice time roaming around town, weather permitting. We've been having a string of real Irish days, which means it is, baffingly enough, sunny and raining simultaneously. How does it work? Nobody knows. Or at least I don't. At least there are rainbows.