“I feel more and more the time wasted that is not spent in Ireland.” Lady Gregory
Sometimes even when I’m in Dublin I miss it. Because I’m a visitor I know I’ll be leaving in a month, or a week, or a day, and so as I’m walking on Dame Street, somehow I’m already missing the place at the same time. It doesn’t seem possible and yet without too much trouble I’ve managed to feel that way.
Now that I’m home, I’m happy to be here, but I’m missing Dublin still. I miss hearing “Hiya!” and “How are you keeping?” and “That’s gas!” and “Thanks a million!” Or hearing a woman say, “God bless” to the girl who has just rung up her groceries. Or when I hold the door for a mom with a stroller and she says, “Oh, you’re very good.” I miss hearing “Jaysus, Mary, and Joseph” and “for fook’s sake” at every corner. (The Irish even swear on television!) And it only seems plausible in Ireland to hear someone say that a sandwich is “gorgeous” and really mean it.
I miss taxi drivers who ask questions and who genuinely seem as if they are waiting to hear the answers – “Who do you think will be the next President?” “Why do you keep coming back?” “Is the weather not better in Philadelphia?” I also miss their cheeky advice – “Do you have any recommendations for me while I’m here?” I ask. “Don’t get married,” is the reply.
I miss all of the attention! (Who is that exotic American woman in the shadows armed with nothing more than a pen and notebook? And is that a MacBook Air she’s hiding under her jacket?) And the expressions! About a fifty-year-old bachelor who can’t commit- “He’s been on the shelf too long!” About another Irish male who can’t make up his mind – “He should sling his hook!” And when I ask a friend if he has ever been to the Long Hall, he answers, “I’ve never darkened its doorway.” Every phrase seems to paint a picture.
And I miss walking for miles every day. Yes, I said it and I mean it. Even an hour-long walk in windy, sideways rain on a November afternoon can seem romantic in Dublin. Of course at the time, when my umbrella blew up into a cone and I had to say good-bye to it, it didn’t seem at all romantic, but like all mishaps, time and memory can change their shape. And I miss a friend texting to see if I am free to meet up at the Pearse Street Library in fifteen minutes. I rush to get ready, I hail a taxi just outside my apartment, and I’m soon at the library. I meet Helen inside a small room filled with chairs and we listen along with other book lovers as Caitriona Lally reads from her newly published book Eggshells and Daniel Seery reads aloud from his novel A Model Partner. Both passages are laugh-out-loud funny. Afterwards, Helen and I go up to talk to them both about the process of writing and getting books published. Catriona tells us that she was jobless and wandering aimlessly through the streets of Dublin when the premise for her book came to her. (Fantastic stuff! I remain hopeful!) Helen and I go out for a coffee and a chat because it’s Dublin and it would be unheard not to.
And even though we have beautiful lights here, I miss the Christmas lights on Grafton Street that spell out, “Nollaig Shona Duit,” Happy Christmas in Irish.