june, 2010

Wed, 16 Jun 2010 23:46:24 0100

We picked the rainiest day in Dublin to drink our rosé. Sunday morning had been brightly sunny -- I'd made tea in the hotel room and had a vegan scone from Cornucopia for breakfast; sought out and found a yoga class in Ranelagh -- but before I even made it out again for lunch, a glance out the window to the north side of the Lower Ormond Quay revealed rain so hard I thought at first it was hail. I unfurled my orange umbrella and went out anyhow, reading my kindle over lunch, going around the corner for more tea -- because what was I going to do, sit in my slightly shabby hotel room (read: nowhere near as adorable or well-maintained as the rooms Trisha & I had stayed at in either Paris or Nice the previous week) and mope that there was no one to play with?

Weekends in Dublin (which I think I should try to never have one of again) only confirm my inkling that I'm bad at solo travel. I am, perhaps, extroverted to the point of pathological, filling hours between novels wandering through St. Stephen's Green or around Grafton because I know it stretches the limits of social graces to text all threeish friends I have here all the time, staying by myself only because one has to from time to time. But god, it's boring to the point of tears.

And this especially in comparison to the week before! Trisha and I, threatening to do business in Marseilles, flew instead into Paris and spent two days drinking champagne at Ladurée's purple sylvan glowing bar, scheming how to fit the d'Orsay's giant gold clock onto our shared office wall back home, practicing our French on willing waiters, befriending strangers while drinking the best cocktails in Paris. We took the train south to Nice, where the whiteness of our hotel blinded (the pool table, the baby grand, the giant roses that were the door handles), where the sun shone warmly, where the starchy chickpea socca and caramelized onions on the local pissaladière with a glass of Leffe (oh yes, this is France) made a perfect antidote to the previous night's whiskey and Lady Gaga video dancing-along-to. We went to Monte Carlo because we could, and put down 20 € on roulette. We went to Antibes for the tail end (and afterparty) of a vintage yacht regatta, drank more rosé, danced with the sailors and partygoers (men bought us champagne). We went out to Bandol, a nearby appellation famed for its mourvèdres, tracing the light peachy rosé to its source; we went to Sanary-sur-Mer and ate almond calissons under palm trees overlooking the Mediterranean; we drove to Aix-en-Provence for dinner, and then back. We even had rosé (100% cinsault) in the airport on the way north.

Complete luxury (I suppose we did behave, as a Net Deploy coworker here said, like 14-year-old girls with credit cards let loose in the south of France). Ever-longer sunlight, each day warm and ideal new-summer-dress- and pretty-summer-sandals weather. Red poppies (coquelicots, so close to their orange California sisters) that waved slowly between sundrenched vines of mourvèdre. More and better vegetarian food by far than I'd dreamed of there being in that country, or indeed than I remember. And, importantly, a good travel partner (even if she did like the sheets tightly tucked in).

What an unwelcome shock, then, to remember that the ostensible reason for spending most of June in Europe was to be in Dublin. After the first few exciting days of being in a familiar but still foreign city, hearing the blue-eyed Irishmen pronounce a soft th in their wonderful brogues (that part never gets old, nor too those eyes), I remember that this town depresses me. I need people, my people, and many of them; I need salads, I need things I love doing and people I love to do them with.

Shielded from the rain Sunday evening on Ryan & Susan's glassed-in porch, I uncorked the second bottle of Bandol rosé we'd brought over in their own suitcase, breathing in the grapes as the chill and wet melted away. (Now I see why people speak of holidays in the south of France with such acute nostalgia.) Because they hadn't seen it, I pulled up the TV commercial from a few years ago of slow-motion bouncy balls cascading colorfully down Russian Hill, José Gonzales strumming Heartbeats. And I teared up watching it.

There's a word for this feeling: homesick. Desperately. France was wonderful, but the one American importer of Domaine Tempier is in Berkeley, and I now want to go home. I'm over the Guinness and Smithwick's, over the Jameson. I'd even cede all these men's blue eyes to be back in the place that, having done my share of empirical verification, is really home.

Dublin, it's not you, it's me. Just say "thirty-three" once more before I go.

all this Šnori heikkinen, June 2010

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