Mon, 27 Jul 2009 21:21:22 +0100
I've brought my laptop, perhaps incongruously, to Grogan's, a small, blue-upholstered pub just down the road from a little vegan café that could put Berkeley to shame. Craig & I came here his first weekend in Dublin nine days ago, photographing (and then drinking) the ceremonial first Guinness (and then of course the ceremonial second). I can't tell if my setup -- silver apple computer; iPhone perched next to me on the low table; bright messenger bag with a new copy of Cornucopia's cookbook open on the bench -- is a bit too San Francisco for the locals, but no one's looked at me stranger than the bartender, from whom I just now forgot to retrieve my €0.40 (well-learned tipping habits die hard).
God, this is better than last time! Everything about it is better: I have a specific project I came here to work on (because I am, of course, traveling on the company euro-dime, visiting our office, and the other half of my team, here), on which we're making good progress. Beaten my last visit by the tyranny of the potato and the Irish incomprehension of anyone who wouldn't eat meat were it affordable, I've left my dairy and egg avoidance back home, and am traveling incognito as a lacto-ovo (though a bit of a lactarded one, as two slices at Carlo's chosen pizzeria proved -- I "needed air" and walked, cheeks aflush, up and down the twilit block as my coworkers texted the phone I'd left back in the restaurant to make sure I wasn't about to pass out from cheese). Most days still contain some potato derivative, dish, or snack; but it's not the oppressive single source of calories it is to whatever remaining local benighted vegans there might be. I can eat pastries for breakfast, have milk (and sugar!) in the cup of tea offered to me by the affable and attentive owner of what must be the best-appointed, cutest-possible B&B in these kingdoms: on the north coast of Northern Ireland yesterday as Ryan, Susan, Craig & I arrived up the left side of the tiny roads from Belfast -- a proper "spot of tea," complete with a proper "biscuit." So easy!
And, glaringly, so relievingly, hugely, there is no bullshit boy drama: no tightness of heart waiting in the basement of a pub; no thick glasses of Midleton proffered in consolation (only, this time, in friendship); no second-guessing of travel plans, apprehension, and fears borne out. Fuck, but that one threw me.
The comparison isn't entirely a fair one: October versus July, as now the rains are lesser and the days, instead of ending around when work does, extend into the night, only darkening around 10 (or even later, when I first arrived two weeks ago, as I dragged Craig out of a bar his first night to point out) as we're already done with dinner and on to the first pint; and then dawn coming absurdly early -- so early that we saw it last weekend, walking back from Paul's party in the sprinkling, ubiquitous light rain until 6am.
It's good, too, to be out of my usual well-examined life, all the eyes whose appreciation and scrutiny I regularly seek out -- even, almost, of the clarity inevitably gained in the process of writing this. It's almost blissful to hide out in this small green country of brogues and tea, potatoes and coworkers, pints of Smithwick's and road trips up the coast. I've made decisions I have not yet analyzed; planned my evenings without regard to obligations of laundry or society. It feels wildly refreshing.
Last night up on the north coast, Susan texted me as I was about to go to bed that the stars were out with a vengeance. We stumbled outside and blinked into the clear Milky Way, shivering in the winds coming in off from the ocean to Whitepark Bay until constellations had been identified and the chill chased us back to the warmth of duvets. I have just under a week left here in Ireland, and -- both for contrast's sake, and for the preset moment alone -- I intend to continue to enjoy it.