23 February 2011

Almost Heaven

I interrupt this normal, average Wednesday to tell you a REALLY COOL STORY.

I usually stay at my internship fairly late on Wednesdays - I tend to get home between 7 and 8 p.m. Tonight, I was heading back in the dark, when most people are eating dinner, and as I asked for Oli's ukulele tonight but have no carrying case, I was swinging it around a bit, eager to get home and play. I decided to go a bit out of my way and take the steps instead of climbing the more direct hill to my flat. As I approached the bottom of the stairs, I heard a most delightful sound that I soon found was a man sitting on the ground, huddled under a blanket and playing an Irish whistle. Thus, our story begins.

My usual policy toward street musicians/buskers and giving money is as such: if I...
a.) especially like their music,
b.) stop to watch at all,
c.) have money in my pocket or hand already, or
d.) can get money out in the time (between spotting/hearing them and passing them),
I give a few pence/cents. I know that that sounds like I throw a lot of money at people in the street, but quite honestly, none of the above circumstances fall into place very often. Tonight, however, the sounds of the flute carried down to my ears all the way back in the big open square at the foot of the steps, cheering me from the inside out. Despite the fact that I was carrying my bag and a ukulele, I fumbled around for some change deep in my pockets. By the time I got within a few feet of the man, I was ready with about 75p.

As I tossed it into the hat he had lain in front of him, he said, "Cheers!" and then, as he spotted the ukulele, asked, "Do you play that?" This led to a conversation about ukuleles, Irish whistles, our heritages, West Virginia, music, and homelessness that eventually wound its way back to John Denver. I turned to go up the steep stairs to my flat, filled with a warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside that had its roots in my connecting with a complete stranger, and the sounds of "Country Roads" led me home.

(I am so glad that I tossed those coins into that tiny knit hat.)

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