Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fare thee well, sweet Anna Liffey


I can no longer stay... though not for lack of desire, or lack of trying. I kept telling our hosts that I wanted to live and work here, asking if they knew anyone who needed someone with cooking or construction experience. Nothing. 
This morning, wouldn't you know it, Dublin gave us snow as a parting gift. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep us from taking off. We are now in the air. Having just taken our last glimpse of the southwestern coast we've come to love so much, we are officially out of Ireland. But, I think, Ireland will never be out of us. As the song goes, "No time nor tide, nor waters white, could wean my heart away..."

Ireland, I've heard, is called a country of poets, priests, and warriors... And how could it not be so? How could a person write of Ireland without it coming out like verse? The land writes the poetry, and we have only to record it. How could a person see this land, and breathe this air, and not feel called to worship, and thank God for His blessings? How could a person have this country and it's people in their blood and not be so passionately disposed toward them as to be willing to fight to keep them? I believe that the reason the Irish are so notoriously unfortunate is that God realized he'd already blessed them too much by making them Irish, and he had to balance it out somehow. Whereas, the English were blessed with the ability to build an empire that spanned the globe (granted, the Irish sort of did the same, only through infiltrative breeding instead of conquering and subjugation), but God balanced it out by making them live in England. And, being ever jealous that we got the beautiful island, the personality, and the good looks, the English spent most of their time trying to kill us. 

I'm glad that I seem to have received different traits from both the English and Irish parts of my heritage. From the Irish, I've inherited a love of the land, alternating passion and stoicism, the aforementioned good looks, a love of music and literature, as well as a taste for good beer and whiskey, and a, "treat me well and I'll treat you well, leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" kind of attitude... And from the English I've inherited a desire to travel the world, and a desire to claim Ireland as my own. 

As the sun began to rise over California, I was sitting in the air somewhere between Iceland and Newfoundland... Either of which would have been more favorable for me than my actual (though temporary) destination... New York City. I wondered if there would be anywhere to get some good salsa during our layover... but, given that we had been in a rush checking in at Dublin, we did not think, until out over the Atlantic, that we should have had the agent check us all the way through to San Diego. So there was not likely to be a chance for salsa hunting. I guess we'll just have to settle for Pace Picante when we get back. 

Despite a few misadventures, not having enough time or money to do everything we'd want to do, and the sneaking suspicion that tour guides and Bed & Breakfast owners kept intentionally sending us to places where they knew we'd meet more American's than locals, we found the Ireland we had hoped for... and I think talking with Americans (and playing a little bit of country music on the drive back to Dublin yesterday) helped Erika fight off homesickness. I'm going to have to find something to help me with that when I get back to California. I just hope I'm not all like, "I just can't use Irish Spring deodorant anymore. It doesn't smell anything like the real thing." Y'know? I did get a kick out of the traditional Irish band the other night playing a Celtic version of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" though. Oh, and, for those who are interested, we did not see any leprechauns (barring the fat Asian guy dressed as one at the hotel bar last night), but we did see more than a couple rainbows. One actually led us right to Dingle Brewing Company. Oh, and no pots of gold either. I think that may have been something the Irish came up with (much like the Mayans, or the Incas, or whoever it was, with their El Dorado story) as a way to distract stupid foreign invaders. Only, unlike El Dorado, the pot of gold was probably less of a "go searching way over those mountains instead of trying to kill or enslave us" thing, and more of an "if they're busy chasing rainbows, we won't have to share our delicious, delicious, whiskey or beer with them." I'd make up stories about leprechauns too if that was the case. 

After our brief and salsa-less stop, we took off from New York with a plane full of people who seemed happy to be heading to San Diego, and it feels very lonely. And what a place to stop off on the way. The only way I can think of for New York City to be less like Ireland would be to move New York nearer the equator. There is no gradual acclimation here, no slowly getting used to coming back to city life, no time to let the delusions and dreams fade out, and the cold realities seep in. Close your eyes on rural green pastures, open them on the stark grey expanse of man's supposed dominion over the earth. As we swiftly slipped toward the clouds, which hung over the city without touching it, as though not wanting to dirty themselves upon making contact with the urban wonderland, I gazed out across the city which so many seem to love (at least, according to the t-shirts) and it made me glad to know that there are so many people who would prefer this over my Ireland... That they would probably be bored by my Ireland... Because if they are happy to keep their New York, they are less likely to ruin my Ireland. And just before I caught  my last glimpse of that famous skyline cutting like a saw blade into the grey murky sky, I couldn't help thinking two things: first, I thought how much more fortunate I am than Irish who made their way to New York throughout our history... And second, I thought, "Hey, Spider-man lives down there."

Slainte, Happy Saint Patrick's day, and Eirin go bragh. 

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