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An exploratory day in Cork City, wandering like a fool

Ireland, 5 June 2009 —

I lived in Ireland for 8½ years between the summer of 2001 and the spring of 2011.

I was in Cork city today, southwest Ireland, where I'd taken the bus from Kilkenny in the southeast.

I've been thinking about Cork for a while.

Today, I just got onto the bus and went. I had nothing like a plan, only two ideas: look for a job, and look for a place to live. I stopped first at a language school on the quay — I don't have enough qualification yet — and I went a bit back downstream to photograph some large harbor cranes I'd seen on the way in.

Then I walked around. I had a plan to visit a bakery I'd seen a few years ago (it turns out that it's been long since gone, joining the other independent Irish bakeries in their non-existence.) I didn't have any other ideas, for the next few hours.

I need a new pocket notepad; so I was nominally looking for a place where I could get one of those. I met a young German woman — who, it turned out, is attending the language school I'd just visited. She'd been looking lost, and I asked her if she was. She needed to find the tourist-information office, which I showed to her. Would she see me? No.

And then I walked around like an idiot. Women, and the men they prefer.... I hit a dark streak, fairly rapidly after speaking with her.

I wanted to cry, but I had no place to be alone. I wanted to go back to Kilkenny, because I could be alone there.

And I walked around like an idiot, more. I walked until my feet were sore, but hadn't any other ideas. I crossed the river again and went, this time, up a street perpendicular to the quays, and up a hillside road.

At least it was relatively unpeopled.... Maybe I'd even find my place to sit and cry.

Across the street, I saw a sign: "bedsit to let." I crossed over to better read the number there, and put it in my phone. But I had only a few cents credit, so I had to go find "top-up."

I walked up the street. For some reason, I let the first person walk past me, and asked the second I met — a guy in his late-20's — if he knew where there was a shop nearby. He told me that the closest one is down this way and up to the right — here; I'll show you.

I told him that I needed to buy topup because I wanted to call that number — we were just then passing it — about a room. I was operating on the principle that when you're searching for something, you tell people.

Where are you from?, he asked. The States. And you? Hungary.

Wow. I'm flying to Budapest on the 25th.

Really? What are you going to do there?

Well, I'm just flying there, then we're going overland to Transylvania.

You're kidding me. I was born in Transylvania.



Wow. I love Cluj.

He'd lived in Cluj-Napoca, he and his ethnic-Hungarian family, until they'd had to leave as political refugees. He goes back frequently. He's going back this month.

We celebrated Romania and we said our goodbyes, me thanking him for his tip about the shop that I was looking for; and he wishing me luck.

But he called to me back, from across the street, and came across.

He told me that he and his wife have a spare room in their house — they're planning to have a baby; he said that he's "still working on it."

No promises nor agreements, but I'm going to go talk with himself and his wife, tomorrow.*

*I didn't live with Czaba and his wife, but did move into a place nearby and visited with with him a few times during the year that I was in town.

I lived in Cork from August of 2009 until July of 2010, when I returned to Kilkenny.