I sit at the Heuston train station in Dublin. I wait for the 2:30 train to Galway. As it is with traveling, the unexpected is my most intimate and interesting companion. A blizzard in Chicago has delayed my departure in Denver by more than two hours, my connecting flight to Dublin will be air bound before I will land. My day is extended by hours, hours of waiting.Waiting has become something I am good at. Life, despite my willfulness has taught me patience. To be patient is to be free. Free I am.
Landing in Chicago, the city is blanketed in white. We land on a runaway covered in snow and ice. A two hour layover that turns into four. I stare out my window seat and watch the world beneath me. Drifts accumulate on the wings, little tonka trucks shovel the impossible, while our luggage sits amidst the dropping temperatures and flurries. I see a whole line of emergency vehicles following a plane that has just landed. The wind is howling strong, and relentless. I call to it, will it listen? Just to be sure I knew I had been heard, it begins to form small dust devils, lifting the snow into circles of shimmering light. I have seen it do the same with sand in the high desert, in northern New Mexico where the wind never tires. A good omen. Everyone on board is anxious, it is a long flight and as I watch the sci-fi of the de-icing robotics I wonder if the alien green fluid will keep us from falling from the sky. It is midnight before we are in the air, and the cabin grows quiet.
I arrive at Heathrow, a virtual maze of an airport, and a city unto itself. I have been through here several times but it doesn’t make it any easier to navigate. I have less than 45 minutes to get through U.K. customs and make my flight on Aer Lingus for Dublin. The interesting thing about time is the more you slow down, the greater its expansion. I refuse to be in a rush, adventure will be had one way or another! I consciously center my awareness on the fact that there is no where to be other than where I am. This is how I choose to live my life no matter what the circumstances. I arrive minutes before they begin boarding flight 165. I sit behind hollywood actor, Samuel Jackson who is easily recognizable and conspicuous in his ray ban black sunglasses. I am relieved to travel in this world anonymously.
A short flight to the Dublin airport, exactly an hour. I pick up my one “no worse for the wear” suitcase at baggage, grateful to the Gods that it is here and not anywhere else. I exchange my nearly worthless American dollars for the upgraded euro. I am on the road again. I love nothing, nearly as much, as I love being anywhere I have not been before. All the comfort of the familiar is erased. I don’t know where I am going or how I will get there. My immediate dependency on the unseen and the unknown is so keenly felt when I am out of my element, it makes my surrender ever more sweet. As I listen to the symphony of languages being spoken, none of which I understand, I savor my new world. I have always felt as if I was a foreigner, looking in from the outside.
I take the air coach to City Centre, the heart of Dublin. I have a room for the night at the Arlington Hotel, a three star landmark with nightly traditional Irish music and dancing.
This I didn’t know prior to my arrival. My room is simple with the only amenities I need, a bed and a bathtub. It is now nearly 6:00 pm and I am starving. I cross the Liffey river by way of the temple bridge. No pub food, not tonight. The Gourmet Burger Kitchen. More vegetarian choices than I can decide upon. Falafel with homemade chili sauce, raita, fresh tomato, lettuce and red onion. Best burger I have ever had! I wander down cobblestone streets, a brightly painted pub on every corner.
I venture into the Temple Bar and listen to soulful Irish ballads and pop hits from America. When I enter the Quay Bar the men are gathered around the T.V. watching a football game and drinking beer. I decide this is a good spot to have my first ever Guinness. I guess I needed to go to Dublin before I indulged. The bartender makes sure I understand that it has to sit before it gets its second pour and then once it has formed a perfect foamy head I am allowed ceremoniously to take my first sip. I love the ritual of course but the taste is even better! I end the evening at the Knightsbridge Pub adjacent to the Arlington. The music begs my body to move, but no one’s dancing. Hand clapping seems to be the preferred show of enjoyment. Two young, spirited and dark haired beauties join me at the bar. Anya and Barbara are longtime friends and spent a year living together in Melbourne. We have an interesting conversation about the existence of spirits and the gift of sight, the economy, immigration woes in Ireland, the beauty of travel etc. They give me kudo’s for traveling alone. This gypsy is at home where ever her feet land.
Written: February 11, 2010