Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There are Pigeons in Our Cafeteria

Okay this post idea was stolen from Becky. It's going to be a series of sensory snapshots of my favorite moments/experiences in Ireland to date.

At the beach: The first time I went I was convinced it was only a five minute walk to the beach. The second time, it got longer. By the third time, when I trekked out to see it in the early morning, the walk had swelled in proposion, approaching the mileage equivalent of a very large creature, perhaps a dinosaur. However, watching as step by step the horizon took on the grey green tinge of the ocean, and breathing in the twang of briny air, my feet started to forget that we walk more than ten miles a day here. There are no locals who go on the beach. The only other person even in the vicinity was another tourist, and she wisely chose to stay to the cement stadium seating that serves like a seashelled bookend for a crescent of the shore.
I sat in the sand. I was not cool. I chased around the one type of bird on the beach, trying to snap photographs of their strutting step. I dared myself again and again to walk barefoot through the lapping waves, each one burning like icy hot when it licked my feet.

Walking back from the bars: There are humongous swans in Galway. They are the size of a small kindergartener and a little scary. Every now and then one of my dreams stars a large swan such as these, sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner of people and gobbling down small children with glee. This is what I get for drinking before bed. The only pictures I've managed to get of the swans blur and smear on the camera screen. They rise, coiled on themselves, weighty ghosts perched on the canal's filmy surface. They equally tempt and warn away. I've yet to see their eyes, but I imagine that when I do, they will be bleak and grim and frightfully intelligent. More likely they will simply gaze and glide away, disinterested in yet another foreign trespasser.

The night of my birthday: A giant birthday card covered with old english font and characticures of birthday dragons is safely tucked away beneath my desk. It was made from the remains of a shipping box, artfully cut and stamped with the seal of "weird birthday cards inc." That night, a full moon, we traveled to the Roisin Dubh (Roy-sheen Dove) to listen while men and women joined in to stir together what should have been a cacaphonous melody and instead turn it into an embrace of worn fiddles and basists. Our drinking guests that night were an old man and women (perhaps I'm being unkind...maybe middle age). He was armed with a scraggled beard and an at-times gapped smiles. Her dreads hung down like twisted ropes on either side of her face, swinging as she leaned forward to speak with enthusiasm about the shifting tides brought on by the full moon and the power of different astrological signs.

However, my favorite moments are these: Walking back from town, wishing for the millionth time we had a closer residence, speaking, sometimes slurring to my roommates. We discuss everthing from politics to education to boys to love to homesickness to the difference in culture between our home and Ireland. My feet always hurt. My wallet is always a little bit lighter. I hardly ever remember what we talk about. But these are the moments I'll look back to.


  1. happiness. i will write more to you soon and i will of course keep reading.