Even though it's still winter outside, and the temperature barely made it up to zero, getting back to the subway today felt like climbing into a warm bath.
Which just goes to show you: you just never know what you'll come to love.
I arrived around 1 o'clock and the afternoon did not begin well. One elderly lady walked by holding her ears. As she passed me, I wondered if her ears were just cold, but then she put her hands back to her sides as soon as she was a few feet away. Near singer: ears covered. Away from singer: ears open.
I don't want to linger on her, because many wonderful things happened today. But I think she's worth mentioning. Can you imagine walking past another person and holding your nose? Or pointedly averting your eyes? I can't.
But as I said, she was the exception rather than the rule during the hour and a half I spent at Pape today. Here are a few highlights:
A man stopped and told me about his sister, who was one of the original TTC buskers twenty-five years ago and is now singing at seniors' homes.
A musician friend invited me to sing at the nearby homeless shelter, where he plays regularly, when he's away for a few weeks in March.
Two women, separately, stopped and listened to entire songs.
There was one other "exception". A healthy-looking, well-dressed teenage boy asked me straightforwardly, "Can I have one of those dollars?"
"NO!" I exclaimed. "I work hard for this!"
"And I'm working hard by asking you for it," he said.
(As you know, dear Blogience, I have viewed subway singing as something of an experiment, in which I ask, "Is the world a benevolent place, or is it not?" Although I've compiled plenty of evidence that strangers are generally kind and good, this young man reminds me that the experiment is far from over.)
What else? Well, I did get cold, of course, and although I played some songs very well, I messed up several others. (Especially one called "Feels Like Spring"--probably because, actually, it doesn't.)
Three people considered buying CDs--one woman took a business card and said she'd check the website--and then finally, around 2:30, just as I was finishing the last song I was planning to play, a friendly woman about my age did decide to buy one. (She hesitated at the price at first, so I swiftly offered a discount and made the sale. This was probably a smart move, because she immediately told me she has 16 brothers and sisters and may need more!)
As I tried to sign the CD for her, I realized that my hands were so cold, I could barely write anything and it was amazing I could still play anything at all, well or badly. The hands must go on autopilot, I suppose.
As I left the subway station (exiting via the Tim Horton's and purchasing a celebratory double-double) I felt completely rejuvenated, as if I'd just woken up from a long sleep.
And as an extra bonus, I'd earned $34.10.