A story from Ireland.
The flights were incredibly smooth. I arrived at Erin’s house at 8am and Devorah drove us to the airport.
MSP–>ORD was on an American Airlines flight. At the gate the put out a call to check additional bags because the flight was very full and were asking for volunteers first. They specified the rolling bags, but when Erin and I were in line for boarding, they tried to make her check her garment bag, which she flatly refused (she’d gone up to the counter immediately after they made the first announcement to let them know that her wedding dress and Zack’s suit were in the bag and that she would not check it). We, and the garment bag, made it onto the flight just fine and that was the most interesting thing to happen on the planes.
ORD–>DUB was on Aer Lingus. Comfortable flight. I watched The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and The Host. I listened to David Bowie’s new album. I didn’t sleep. As we crossed the Atlantic we skipped ahead 6 hours. We departed from Chicago around 3pm. We arrived at 5am in Dublin.
Zack met us at the airport. After a short time to get our stuff situated, we got on a bus for downtown Dublin. While in Chicago, Zack let us know that he had a hotel room for him and Erin booked (The Kelly Hotel) for the first night and that we’d be able to share a room at another hotel (The Bainbridge) for the second night (this is the hotel that Erin’s family was staying at as well). I went online and tried to book Isaacs Hostel. The website indicated that I needed to book into it for two nights. This seemed odd, but I did it. When we left the airport, we went to get breakfast first– we stopped at Brewley’s Cafe Restaurant (“The Heart of Grafton Street”) and I had my first full Irish Breakfast (Potato farl, grilled bacon, sausage, tomato, pudding, mushroom, poached egg with home made relish and two slices of toast) with fresh squeezed orange juice and a coffee. (€9.95)
From there we went to the Kelly Hotel–the room wouldn’t be ready until noon, but we thought we’d be able to leave our bags there anyway. I had indicated an arrival time of 10am for Isaacs online. After we dropped their bags (and my orange rolling duffel) we wandered the area between the Kelly Hotel and Isaacs, taking a lovely stroll through a park because Zack wanted to show me a statue. It turned out that we were in Saint Stephens Green Park and the statue that he wanted to show me was in Merrion Square Park.
The time difference weighed on us. We went over to Isaacs so that I could check in and discovered that I’d somehow bungled the booking (booking two people for one night instead of one person for two nights). The guy behind the counter (his accent sounded like he was perhaps from Spain) managed to fix the booking (he wasn’t going to at first because of the 24 hour cancellation policy–the “second person” would have to be cancelled) so that I had the spot for two nights (€42). This was also an indicator that I’d misread something else on the site when booking (it had said something to the effect that “this establishment requires 2 nights booking” but since I’d done it in a rush on my phone, I probably misread the statement). At any rate, I now had a room … that I wouldn’t be able to get into until around 2. I was lucky enough to snag a locker at this same time (someone was turning in their locker key while I was at the desk).
There was a pub on the corner, so we went down there and had a pint of Smithwicks and killed a little more time together. Finally, it was time enough for Zack and Erin to get into their room, so they departed and I went back to Isaacs to wait longer. My phone was in need of charging (first time since I’d left Minnesota) so I pulled out my new adaptor and couldn’t figure out how to get it to plug in. Every time I selected the UK adaptor I’d get the two metal prongs and a plastic piece would pop up just enough to prevent me from plugging it in. I struggled with it for a little while and a lovely girl from the Netherlands noticed my struggles and offered me hers to use. I thanked her and plugged my phone in and we chatted for a while. It was a pretty great conversation too. Suzanne had studied Architecture and was now working a government job at home approving plans. Unhappy, perhaps, with the routine, but still incredibly interesting to me. When she asked what I do, I mentioned the theatre and the writing, which has the unfortunate reaction of hyperfocus on my stuff, because they seem pretty incredible–creating art. And it is, but it distracts from where our conversation had been. We talked about her trip across Ireland (she was on the last weekend of her three week trip). Suzanne was backpacking around the country, for the most part using public transportations, but had hitchhiked several times. It was her first time hitchhiking and she talked about how nerve-wracking it was the first time she put her thumb out. But, it had led to some fantastic encounters. One gentleman who had such a thick accent that she wasn’t able to understand with her rough English (and her English was quite good) and a guy who owned a pub who happened to be Matt Molloy of The Chieftains. She talked about hiking up cliffs and the stuff that she saw there. And then, when the conversation came back to my experiences–writing and storytelling, this wonderful storyteller said that she just couldn’t write. We talked about writing for a while. And I told her that she was a marvelous storyteller and an excellent conversationist–something that I’ve always struggled with is initiating conversations with people (when I’m at work, there is the context of my job and the small talk is often about the theatre or the show, and when I know people it’s natural, but when I don’t my introversion kicks in and I don’t engage as readily as I’d like). I suggested, if she wanted to journal or write her stories, that perhaps she spoke them first into a recorder and then transcribed them, because one of the key things that has been beat into my brain is that every writer needs to find their voice, the style and way with which they write, and she had such an easygoing storytelling style that she was a natural monologist.
Anyway, I hope she does it. We parted ways. Her leaving me with a small notebook shaped like a cassette tape and me with all the ways to find me online. I hope she does.
I eventually got into my room on the third floor in the back at 2:30 (8:30am Minnesota Time) and quickly passed out, taking a two hour nap with a few interruptions and quickly adjusting to the train that passed by outside.
In the journal that I kept as I traveled through Ireland I wrote this about a half an hour before I got to my room:
I’m still not in my room.
I still haven’t slept.
My body doesn’t know what time it is.
So far, I love Ireland.
More later …