“When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.” James Joyce
I’m finally feeling like I’m living in Dublin and not just staying in Dublin. I love waking up to the view from my third floor balcony. The clouds hover over the tops of city hall and the castle forever changing. It’s still warm here in November and sometimes I can sit and dry my hair with the sun. I usually head over to Considered, a cafe in the Creative Quarter on Drury Street, for my daily cappuccino and occasionally lemon polenta cake with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. On most days I head over to the Dublin Holistic Center on South William Street, a two minute walk from Considered. The center is beautiful – all powder blues and lavender with lace curtains on the high windows and intricately carved crown molding – and it offers yoga classes from 1:00 till 2:00 every weekday. Each teacher is excellent in her own way.
This past Friday Brooklyn was opening at the Irish Film Institute
in Temple Bar and I had to go to the very first screening. Brooklyn is one of my most favorite books and I couldn’t wait to see the film. (In Ireland they say “filem” as if it were two syllables.) I loved it and cried along with all of the Irish women in the theatre. At one point when the heroine Eilis Lacey returns to Ireland after her time in Brooklyn, her old friends ask her if Ireland is too dull and tired for her now, and she replies, “No, it’s calm, charming, and civilized.” I feel the same way, Eilis. The IFI is the personification of calm, charming, and civilized. It’s in a gorgeous brick building with a cafe and a restaurant adjoining the theatre. (They frequently offer a movie and a matching dinner feature which I did when I saw She’s Funny That Way in June.)
For lunch there are so many excellent places to choose from, but I love Industry, across the street from Considered, which is also a cafe within a shop, one of my favorite concepts. In the spirit of “Let medicine be thy food” I’m trying to eat well while I’m here. Today the offerings all look gorgeous, as the Irish might say, but I choose the butternut squash soup with pistachios and coriander on top and a salad of cherry tomatoes and basil along with roasted sweet potato wedges with yogurt and dill dressing, together with grilled wild salmon. (I’ve heard well-behaved salmon is not quite as good for you.)
On Thursday I went to the Chupi soiree in the Powerscourt Shopping Center. Chupi is a beautiful Irish jewelry designer whose inspiration is nature – things like dew drops, leaves, twigs, and swan feathers. I got to talk to her for a little bit and she was adorable and friendly. With all of the wine and food, the ambiance was exciting, charming, and civilized and I got caught up in it and bought three of her rings. I’m going to try to copy the whole night, especially her cake made of rounds of cheese the next time I have a party!
Besides having your favorite places to go, an important part of living somewhere and not just staying somewhere is having a true friend, someone who will tell you when you have spinach stuck in your teeth. I met my friend Ellen in a yoga class. She and her husband moved from Manhattan to live in Dublin permanently this past May. She volunteers at the Oxfam shop next to the Gaiety Theater, and she told me that they needed someone to help out, so now I work at the till on some afternoons. So many interesting people from all walks of life come into the shop. Yesterday a bedraggled looking woman came up to the till with a pair of pants marked 5 euro and asked me, “Could you lower the price of these pants for me?” And the woman just next to her who had just bought leopard print shoes, said, “I can give you the rest of what you need. We’ll split it.” And she handed the woman two euro.
“Oh, thank you. I’ll light a candle for you. Which statue would you like?”
“Oh, the blessed Mother would be nice. And pray for my son too. Think of me when you wear them,” she answered. And they talked a bit longer before they went their separate ways. Oxfam also has gift items and Christmas cards for sale along with gifts that can’t be wrapped like three little pigs, safe water for a family, and honeybees.
And even though I don’t miss being in a school, the teacher in me misses teaching. I met a young man from Slovakia who just got his first real job here in Dublin and he wants to improve his English, so I said I would tutor him at the Starbuck’s on Leeson Street. We met for our first lesson a few days ago, and he told me that his colleagues have been teasing him because whenever they ask, “How are you?” he always answers, “Fine.” So we tossed around a few possibilities and his new response is going to be, “I’m getting better and better.” I’m going to try it out too. Who’s with me?