I'm sitting on my bed, reading Joyce's Dubliners and feeling sore all over like I just ran 10 miles. Clearly, I didn't. And clearly, I can't be taking my venture into The Dead all that seriously if I'm choosing instead to embark upon a pointless, and possibly incomprehensible blog entry--in between looking at Facebook profiles of people I haven't spoken to in at least four years, obviously--and contemplating how much time is TOO much time to go without washing my sheets. Yes, in terms of laundry, I am at ground zero. I almost bought a five pack of granny panties in Dunnes today, just to prolong the emotional trauma of the Gort laundry facility by that much longer.
Am I lazy?
Yes. And I am in denial. The amount of mornings that I have left in Galway, my home, can almost be counted on two hands. I'll be like one of those toddlers who, when asked what birthday they are having, hold up 3 or 4 wonky fingers and give a sheepish grin--only the question will be, how many more days? And I'll hold up a cluster of Mondays and Tuesdays. I'm having trouble doing normal-person things like laundry or grocery shopping, because the stretch of time that needs to be covered by these basic rites of sanity is compressed; I can feel it closing in on me. My brain has already started to adapt to the thought of putting things into suitcases, of the delicious parting one-liners that I will deliver to the people who have rattled my cage--and even the ones who haven't. My sense of self has begun to adapt, just as it did when I was dreaming of coming here, to allow me to accept the fact that I'm leaving. Soon. Ten fingers and three toes.
So what am I focusing on, you might ask? Well, the bigger part of me has launched into seeing-people-mode, appreciating the little things, and soaking up as much of Galway life as I possibly can. It's not all that melancholy, either, because there is still so much standing between now and when I pack up; Tuesday sessions at the Crane, walks along the Salthill prom, afternoons in Renzo drinking tea, late night HBO with my roommates. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the entirety of my life here, right down to the battery-challenged lock on our door and the everpresent stickiness of our kitchen floor. However. There is a smaller part of me, a part that I'm not too proud of, that did her best to be miserable for nearly a week straight... that week being last week. The week my dad was here. Unfortunate timing? Yes. Unavoidable? Probably not. Necessary? I think so.
Abstract: She stick her toes in sanity, just in time to say goodbye to the cold Irish sea.
Chapter One: Angsty Pants
So here's how it went down. Everything happens for a reason, right? There is some sort of cosmic soup cooking up our emotional setpoints at any given moment, and sometimes these ups-and-downs rear their ugly heads at particularly inopportune times. When my dad arrived in Galway, I had already been flirting with disaster; maybe it was the fact that every single one of my friends was out traveling the globe and/or home for Easter, but I was in a mood. It got worse the second day he was here; I dragged my toes around like a petulant teenager, responding with an "I don't knoooooooww" worthy of Dawson's Creek to every question he asked. By the third day, my bad attitude extended beyond daytime television, and I began a stunning rendition of a girl who has been possessed by the devil. Truly. Everything we did was wrongboringIdon'tcareI'mboredI'mtiredleavemealone. Why? Why why why?
I don't know. When I look back at it now, I just feel like I had dug myself into a hole of bad attitude--everything became colored by it, and try as I might, I couldn't break out of it. However, as quickly as it came on, it passed. And I truly believe that it did happen for a reason, because having my dad here while I was going through it--being around someone who loves me so unconditionally, no matter how many times I roll my eyes or chew with my mouth open or complain about my hair--allowed me to emerge stronger on the other side. Having him here was the first test of whether or not I'm going to be able to bridge my worlds together; the one of my youth, my home, and the independent forcefield I've created around myself in Ireland. It's tough. Negotiating childhood and adulthood will always be tough. Maybe I needed my dad here, the person in my life whom I've always seen as invincible--timeless, immortal--to realize that this needed to be done. I hadn't thought of it before, but it had been a long time since I'd had someone here to be completely comfortable around; to release some of the energy I've been harboring between the lines of airline tickets, pub crawls, and adventure. I'm still me, I'm still going through something. I'm growing up, and it feels like hell most of the time. However, once I was able to realize that the only person standing in my way was me--that the second I wanted to get over myself and have a good time, I was capable of doing so--it felt like something unclamped from my heart, and it released a flood of good feeling.
So, with that out of the way, there was nothing left to do but enjoy each other's company and the beauty of Ireland in the spring. The weather was perfection, except the one day we went to Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands; it was spitting and cloudy, but in a way, completely appropriate for the wildness of Dún Aonghasa and the Black Fort. At the end of his visit, we took the bus to Cork and stayed in a tiny B&B, explored the streets and listened to the sounds of Elly O'Keeffe--a singer songwriter who, if I were so pretentious as to say "is going to hit it big," is going to hit it big; we ate hippie food and talked endlessly...and didn't talk sometimes, which is okay too. We also scoured Galway in search of the best music, Guinness, and pancakes, and were successful on all fronts. I loved having him here. I wanted to show him off, I wanted people to know that we have the same blood running through us; the stuff that propels us to love wordplay (example: Papa-san in the árasán, aka "Dad in the house"--which was the only productive thing to come from the 3 hour 15 minute bus ride to Cork, 3 hours and 12 minutes of which was spent thinking of creative ways I could ask the bus driver to make a pit stop without revealing the fact that I was that blockhead who forgot to pee before boarding). Dad and I are peas in a pod, and I take the fact that we drive each other absolutely bonkers to be indicative of the fact that we have even more in common than we are able to realize. I saw the look on his face the first time we entered Tig Coili and there was the usual smattering of instruments, overly sociable Irish mothers, toothless bartenders, and babies bouncing on their fathers' knees. There is nothing so familiar than that scene; that baby was me, and that long-haired father holding her like she was pure gold...that was my Papa-bear. Still is.
Chapter Two: Gesundheit.
So yes, the absence of my friends made Gort na Coiribe feel like a ghost town last week, but there was something else contributing to my muddy mood. That something was standing on every single corner--holding hands, sucking face, and just being an all-around pain in the ass. That something was love, and it was pissing me off like no other.
I'm a hopeless romantic. There are no two ways around that fact. I still think that the day will come when someone will treat me the way that two solid decades of Nicholas Sparks novels have convinced me is possible; however, this is an era of my life remarkably absent of romance, and the result has got me jaded as hell. Normally I am quite tolerant--there have even been times when my friends' descriptions of their relationships have made me feel happy for them, not miserable. This being said, there are times when it is easy to walk down the street and feel infinite happiness for the couples holding hands, and other times when it feels like one gigantic game of pin-the-tail-on-the-single-person. It sucks. And this time of year, ho boy--it's spring. That means people are in looooove and they aren't afraid to show it. For some reason, I got it into my head that I wanted whatever it was that they--the Other--had; I wanted to see what they saw in those prolonged gazes into each others' eyes. Mostly, I've forgotten what it feels like when someone looks at me that way. The truth is, though, I'm just severely allergic to couples right now... it's not their fault. They shouldn't be punished, even if the urge to throw spitballs at the backs of their color-coordinated jackets is sometimes unbearably tempting. I told this to my dad, and his eyes widened like I'd just informed him of my secret desire to pluck the wings off of flies and feed them to my pet boa constrictor named Satan. Really I'm not harboring psychopathic tendencies. I'm just a girl who has recently had her heart broken, and there are some things that even time can't make less electrically painful.
But the seasons do change. A heartbeat ago, it was winter and I was sleeping in three layers of fleece every night; now it's springtime, and the couples are popping up faster than the daffodils. They'll be gone again soon, in any case--right now their presence is making my nose run, but no matter. I carry kleenex around with me just in case, and eagerly await the day when they make an over-the-counter drug for the slow burn of seasonal lovesickness.
Chapter Three: Mo Chéad Searc
I've been trying to think of the right thing to say here for a while now, but my brain is mush. In the day or so that I've been contemplating what I wanted to write in this blog entry, things have flip-flopped and looped in ways that even my delusional imagination could not possibly have conceived of. I've contemplated leaving it here, at that--a little romp through my emotional gymnastics of the past week or so, a fantastic visit with Dad, coming to terms with the end of my experience in Ireland, spring fever--but there's something else on my mind, and I've decided it needs to be said. This might be the only place I ever get to acknowledge it.
Something has changed within me. I felt it last week when I was finally able to pull my head out of my own butt, and snap out of my crappy mood--as soon as I realized I could do it all by myself, there was nothing holding me back. As has been happening since I arrived here, I came face-to-face with a few of the emotional paralyses surrounding my ability to move forward; only this time, I finally bid some of them goodbye... for good. There was freedom, truth in that.
So here's what happened next. When I woke up this morning, I was met with an email from Jeremy that effectively destroyed the little blossom of friendship that I have been turning myself inside out to nurture for the past five months. It was unfeeling, unwarranted, and unlike anything I've been met with before; it was cruel. I expect I'll have nicer letters to look forward to from my stock broker. So I looked at it over and over again, turning the words around in my head until they lost all meaning..... and then it just clicked. There's more to life than this.
Somewhere between the hills of Donegal and the waters of the Blue Grotto, I have found respect for myself, and it has colored my whole world with a different hue. It has allowed me, when confronted with something that hurts more than I can possibly explain, to calmly place my computer underneath my desk, grab my keys, and walk outside. If I leave Ireland next week with nothing else to show for myself than a scar on my back from the fireplace, an empty wallet, and this--this feeling that there is something out there for me, something still to be found from no one other than myself--than I will consider it time well spent. It has already been time well spent.
My dad forgot to give me back my adapter, so I bought a new one from the electric shop, chatting with the cashier for an amount of time that only the Irish would consider to be normal. The same day, I also bought a red dress and got a haircut that--while bearing an unfortunate resemblance to Dorothy Hamill--feels light and easy. I'm sucking the poison from my life. When I got home, I plugged in my new adapter, and imagined that I could see the electrical currents moving this way and that in a desperate attempt to decipher their sudden intersection of voltages. I imagine it is quite the relief when they meet the little white box at the middle, three-pronged and confident, that unscrambles them--allowing them to travel, unchecked, toward the little green light at the base of things.