Last May a busker saved my smile

It is one of the things that always fascinate me, how a few notes of music can travel us back in time and forward in space. This is a very well known superpower of music, of course, albeit a superpower we often forget or take for granted. Until, suddenly, as we go about the normal course of our day, a piece of music finds a way to find us, and suddenly we are somewhere else. An experience complete with the images, the scent, the feel, and the feelings we had the moment that piece of music left an emotional imprint on our memory chart.

This happened to me yesterday as I was getting ready for the university, and made me feel strongly that a “thank you” is due, a thank you that, in fact, I will never be able to properly give.

Story time. One day of last May I was found walking in the historical centre of Bucharest, the charming area of Old Town. It had been a while already that I was feeling something was a bit off, that things were not as they should had been, that things were not as I had been promised they would had been, that I was somewhat lost, that I had gradually become a simulation of myself – the real self shoved somewhere in a corner, to make room for others’ demands, priorities, and wants.

During that stay in Bucharest I wrote poems I was surprised to read, and stared at crammed pages I did not expect to fill. But I did. The emptier I felt inside, the more was being poured out. I was both wrong and right to seek for answers from my companion. I was both wrong and right to feel frustrated that I was proven not to be wrong and that, in fact, for yet another time, my intuition was right. I was both wrong and right to realise that, whatever the case, I could for now do nothing more. Now, we are walking in the Old Town of Bucharest. Funny thoughts, a turmoil in the head, skilfully shaped into a smile. For good measure. Not everyone can read sadness in the eyes but still, for good measure, a well-rehearsed smile will always do.

And then, it happened. I heard a familiar passage. A few guitar notes on repeat. A music phrase very familiar, that felt so misplaced there in the centre of Bucharest’s Old Town, that it took me a while to recognise. That’s what a part of me thought, because the other had already started singing the lyrics (“Your mind and your experience call to me/You have lived and your intelligence is sexy”). I make the turn and there he is, a young busker with his guitar, dark curly hair and a sensual voice. I lower my pace, almost stopped. “I want to know what you got to say/I want to know what you got to say/I want to know what you got to say”.

This is one of my favourite songs by Morphine. A song that I hear in my car as I drive, that pops into my earphones as I walk around running errands, that shuffles freely in every “favourites” playlist that I hold on every music platform. A song that speaks to a part of who I am and who I like to be.

“I can tell you taste like the sky/’Cause you look like rain”

“You look like rain” – Morphine, album Good, 1992

“You look like rain” (from Morphine’s 1992 album Good), despite its undeniable charm, is not an extremely popular song, and neither one that will make passers-by stop and sing along and dance. It is not a tune that many would recognise and, by no means one that you would expect to hear performed on the street by a busker, while walking around the Old Town of Bucharest.

I went to reach in my purse only to remember that I had no lei on me. I still paused for a second, and kept mouthing the words. He smiled. He might had known.

“Come on, let’s go” my company suggested. He couldn’t have known.

I started walking, now quietly singing the song. And I smiled. And this time, it was a special smile. That was not the exact moment that I reconnected with myself, but it was a slight opening of that door. And this is why today, in all my strength and confidence and self-care, when I heard “You look like rain” overflowing my speakers, I remembered the “thank you” that is due.

This thank you will remain somewhere in the air, keep blowing with the wind and, who knows, next time this busker will be singing “You look like rain” in the historical centre of Bucharest or anywhere else in the world, he might get a memory glimpse of a sad-eyed brunette who passed him by smiling, shaking her head in approval, and mouthing the words of the song.

Until then, music will keep connecting people in the most unexpected ways and it’s always worth to remember that, even the flimsiest of notes, might have an impact on other people’s lives, sometimes even at distant places or times.

**photo by Adrian Dascal on Unsplash