It’s Wednesday, January 13, and everywhere I seem to hear the same thing, “Time is flying by.” It’s been flying by for me too. It’s already been a week since Susie and I took the Dart to Greystones, a gorgeous town by the Irish sea. In November my friend Helen and I took the train just to Bray, the stop along the way, and then did the two hour cliff walk to Greystones. But by train it’s just ten minutes more from Bray to Greystones, so on this cold, gray day, Susie and I decide to take the path more easily traveled and we head straight to our final destination. Greystones is so pretty and very Irish, and it’s become famous because of the Happy Pear, the healthy-food restaurant in the heart of the town. The cafe is the invention of identical twins, David and Stephen Flynn. They’re celebrities here in Ireland. I see them almost immediately upon entering the store and say to Susie, “Those are the brothers!” We watch as one brother takes the other’s face in his hands. It’s simply adorable and we find out later from someone who is willing to give us the scoop that the brothers have indeed not seen each other in a while – one was on holiday with his wife in Poland. We’re told that both live right in town. The cafe has the most delicious vegetarian food, and we have salads, and cookies, and lemon poppy seed cake. Susie and I are enchanted by all the quotes on the walls, the primary colors, the sea-salt air, and the fact that we’re together once again in Ireland enjoying the craic.
There’s a grocery store attached, (well of course there is) and we chat up the Aussie at the register who points out things that he thinks we might like. Susie can barely understand a word he’s saying and I try to translate. We see a sign for The Happy Pear Happenings in Dublin and Don Laoghaire (pronounced Dun Leery) where the brothers will tell stories from the first ten years of starting the cafe, and instead of writing down the information, Susie takes a picture of the sign. I say, “She’s pretty AND smart.” The Aussie says, “You’re not so bad yourself.” (There is no shortage of charm in this country.) We buy organic pinhead oatmeal, hummus (the best I’ve ever had), tea, and then we try to stop ourselves.
We stop at the health food store that our Aussie friend directed us to, and there’s a gorgeous fireplace with peat logs burning. Susie doesn’t know about the peat from the bogs that the Irish use for fuel instead of wood, so the girl at the till explains it all to us. After the book store and more walking, we take the Dart back to Dublin, but we miss the Pearse Street stop where we got on because we’re talking and laughing. So we go to the next one which is on Tara Street. You have to use your ticket to exit the station, but because we went a stop too far, the turnstile won’t open. We’re a little bit flustered and we head over to the cute attendant who sizes us up with a glance. He says, “Girls, relax, I’m here for you.” We tell him what the situation is, and he says, “Just come out this way, will ya?” and he opens the glass door for us. I say, “So sorry, we won’t bother you any more,” and he answers, “Not at all, I enjoyed it.” Susie and I laugh out loud. We love this place and its people.
We’re supposed to go to the Irish Writers’ Centre for an event tonight, but there’s a huge rainstorm, and we decide to stay in for our last night together in Dublin. We talk and laugh some more over the white wine that my airbnb host left in the fridge for us. The next morning we get up early to collect Susie’s raspberry scones from Queen of Tarts, and we try to find the right spot for the 747 CitiLink bus to get Susie to the airport. The bus is only six euro and a taxi is between twenty-five to thirty euro, so the bus makes sense and it really is almost as easy. Except the woman at Jury’s Inn just across the street from my apartment tells us the wrong spot, and we see the bus going the other way. Luckily it circles back to a stop directly in front of our apartment. By this time I’ve run ahead to flag it down and then Susie just makes it on, and she’s away. I miss her instantly and still. In a second, I go back to my ordinary world here – a cappuccino at Clement and Pekoe, yoga class, food shopping at Dunnes, a nap, phone calls to friends and my dad back home. And that’s about all it takes before the independent me is back in action.
It’s Friday night already and I decide to go back to the pub where I met the nice lads in the snug way back in June. They’re not there. I try another one close by, and as luck would have it, they’re there! No really, they’re there. And they are the personification of my favorite definition of looking for and then finding the craic: “When your companions are clever and handsome, and you can’t imagine better company in the world, that’s when you know you’ve found it.” They are as nice and funny and as generous as the first time I met them. One of the lads is missing and they call him and put me on the phone with him just to say hello. One of my favorites of the group – Paul – insists on buying me a drink within seconds of saying, “Hello, how have you been? I remember you – the girl from the snug.” I have a glass of Guinness, and then another, and then another…they’re just small glasses. There are a few new faces. One is Brendan who has been living in Long Island for years with his family, but has come back to Dublin for a holiday visit. He is happy to meet up with his old friends – a few he hasn’t seen in thirty years. I don’t want to break the mood, but I ask the lads if they wouldn’t mind being in a photo. And of course they don’t mind. And Aidan tells one of the guys to get up on a chair so that the angle will be good and there won’t be any double chins. Aidan, you’re a wise man. I’ve been trying to explain the importance of the angle for years! No one listens. Why doesn’t everyone know that you have to hold the camera up high? Everybody’s going to look better. And we do, we really do. And no, I’m not going to mention the name of the pub where I found them. When looking for the craic, I can point you in the right direction, but I can’t tell you exactly how to find it.