The calm stands over us, the gentle breeze both cool and warm as it comforts our ailing hearts. Me, I am guilty, and as usual it threatens to overwhelm me. I should not have shared that story, the one that occasionally haunts and keeps me up at night, especially when Valentine’s Day is looming, coming and going in the blink of an eye but ever a reminder of love and pain.
Valentine’s Day. It is bitter to those who are lonely or choose to love differently. Candles. Chocolate. Roses. Gifts. Those are the usual things to be expected for those who love romantically. If only this day could be used to celebrate other kinds of love, too. Self-love. Friend love. Family love. The kind of love earned after healing, or even the kind of love gained from unexpected places, behind words and actions or just plain architecture, one that makes you keep coming back for more.
“We focus so much on one kind of love- the hypersexual kind- that we don’t pay enough attention to the other kinds,” my companion’s head is down, but I slowly coax them to look up. Not at me, never at me, but at what is easier to look at. ” Let me tell you a better story, a story more loving than the last.”
Watch the tiny man go His shadow grazing the Earth Greener and brighter And filled with cracks Where he sneaks and hides His shadow waiting For you to follow "Come with me!" you tug My arm and I go Where you go My heart leaping as you Leap After the tiny little man And his shadow Perching beneath the stones Carved and chiseled So long ago Into the shape of the Tiny man Who is not so tiny "What is wrong?" you ask And I say nothing I never say anything I follow, even when My feet Tell me to stay put And not chase the Tiny man Who carries our dreams In the palm of his Grubby hands Dreams I don't deserve While you do Watch the tiny man go His shadow disappearing From the earth So flat and dry Yet carrying bones Of those who sat behind Watching Their dreams go "Come with me!" you tug My arm and I wait And you pull Refusing to let me Stay behind And watch the dreams Slip away Because I am afraid Of the tiny man Who is not so tiny A legend standing tall At the gates to a Wonderous garden I will soil and stain Wit my own self hatred Watch the tiny man go Their shadow still clinging As you cling to me Our hearts beating as One Brothers Who cannot do one thing Without the other Although the tiny man Says It is time we do Our hearts are one Our minds are another And your dreams cannot Wait While mine can A little longer Before the earth Swallows My bones And I choose not to follow The tiny man's shadow Waiting For me to decide if My self hatred is Worth Holding onto.
I don’t remember how it started. Rugby, of course. We were probably in a bar, as we often were after practice or on game days. Bars weren’t my cup of tea, as they were crowed and loud, and it was hard for me to order anything with my processing speed keeping my words lodged in my throat. Why in the world would Ireland be the place for me then? What could I possible like about it if I wasn’t there for the drinking, in which an unreliable Irishman told me to lie, come up with every excuse not to drink because the shame of being a non drinker is too great to bear. Rugby. That’s what it started as, but that’s not how it ended.
I decided I would explore around a few days before meeting James Blond, Wanderlust, the Traveling Nurse, Thor, and Peace Soldier for the women’s rugby World Cup, an event I have never witness. Of course mistakes were made right out of the gate, and soon I would find myself in a dozen or so bizarre plot lines straight out of a road trip comedy.
Mistake number one: Arrived at five thirty in the morning with a six hour drive to county Donegal. The plan was to start wide and make my way back to Dublin for the tournament. I didn’t realize how tired I’d be. The convenience store was closed, so I waited outside in a rental car, sleeping uncomfortably with the seat dropped back, until it opened and I could purchase some food and drinks with the euros I mistakenly tried to use during a layover in Heathrow where I needed pounds.
“What wasn’t a mistake was learning to drive on the opposite side of the road,” I say confidently.
“Wait. You didn’t crash into a single thing?”
“Well, I almost went in the wrong direction, earning a couple honks here and there, and I did smudge the car when parking once, but oddly enough it was when I plenty of room. I’d say my biggest accomplishment was parallel parking from the reverse side. Quite the dexterity if I don’t say so myself.”
They groan, but I can see I am breaking through, their dreary frown flickering at the corners ever so slightly. I continue, and I thrust the pen and postcard into their hands, insisting nothing should be edited out.
I spent the first day driving, taking in the land which was greener than I’ve ever seen, passing by wide bays beautiful, especially from the top of the hill. My first real meal was at one of those food carts at the side of a road, and I had the customary fish and chips while sitting on a ledge overlooking the boats and barges floating while the sun beamed across the blue and green, now shimmering with silver streaks. It was gorgeous, and I could remember just wanting to sit there forever.
Mistake Number Two: I packed the wrong charger, bringing my European one I used for Iceland, and not realizing it until I had already driven to the other side of the country. It sounds privileged, I know, and it is; after all, it was but a trifle inconvenience compared to the state of things. This whole trip was a matter of privilege, and its important to keep that in perspective while also allowing myself to have these types of problems. invalidating others leads to an entrapment, this sense of “Buck up champ, someone else has it worse than you so you should not be complaining” that leads to internal suffering and a clogged system waiting to explode. Anyway, I tried to get on using the car charger, but it was insufficiently slow, so I needed to find the nearest electronics store that sold universal charges. That was towards the north, close to Derry, or Londonderry depending on which side of history you were on. Northern Ireland, I quickly learned, was almost, if not completely, its own separate and distinct identity filled with one side of two feuding factions, although it might be putting it lightly. I cannot begin to accurately describe the history, the lingering bitterness brought from blood spilt history involving the Protestants and the English, so I’ve leave it to the historians and leave the bits and pieces my memory-distorted and mangled, unsure of itself- does know here.
The road was long, over an hours worth of driving for five minutes of picking and buying, yet beautiful, dipping through valleys covered with sheep-sheep were everywhere- and winding around roads carving through hills blinding green. What could have easily been considered a wasted day wasn’t because I was where I loved to be: cutting a path through nature and listening to music I liked, realizing just how many Irish bands I listen to.
“I discovered a long time after this trip an old collection of CD’s I used to burn. I kept them in a blue box, and they were titled the most ridiculous names I am too embarrassed to tell you.”
They flinch, and I can see their cheeks begin to blush. “I thought they were cool.”
“Of course you did. You created them, trying to use the language that everyone else around you was using. The songs you burned, I burned, don’t belong to us. They belong to others in whose identity I tried to make my own. The more I listen to the CD’s, the more I can see the struggle to establish myself. It continues today, where I’m terrified to play my own music, to play and expose my real self, so I try to play music belonging to the identity of others, and not to me. Only when I’m alone in the car, driving across winding roads, to I allow myself to play and listen to what is me, truly me, the me beneath the layers of so many others. Otherwise passengers get their requests, get what they want, but as it turns out in a stroke of luck James Blond and Wanderlust just so happen to agree with the music that is me.”
Mistake Number Three: Not so much as a mistake as what would be frowned upon in America. I decided to head towards Donegal for a reason that is not entirely clear to me anymore; I suspect I was hunting for something, a museum or castle of some sort to be all touristy and receive a cultural education. Regardless, I decided to pick up several hitchhikers, apparently throwing caution to the wind on whether or not I’d get murdered. Who I remember the most was this traveling couple, and he was a musician and she was a children’s storyteller. They were backpacking, and they were confused as to why it was so difficult to hitch a ride. In certain countries it is perfectly acceptable, if not downright a civic duty, for strangers to provide rides for one another- free of charge, this is not to be confused with Uber, which is essentially a charged hitchhiking system where strangers offer rides to strangers- and the fact it didn’t cross their mind that it could be dangerous really shows the unintended naivete that can be brought along during travels. A certain lack of knowledge can put someone in a bit of a bind or act as a barrier leading to all sorts of things. It might be easier to stay in a resort area, and perhaps that is true in some cases, but a resort is a dream denying reality.
Mistake Number Four: It always rains in Ireland, at least it did during that August. This was a mistake I would repeat again when I ventured to the caravan in the middle of County Clare. Let me rewind a little. One of the reasons I head Northwest was in hopes to explore the beaches. The place I stayed was a unique inn buried at the end of the cliff. The room was cozy and small, ideal for me who hates having so much space. Not far from the inn was a cove I consider one of the hidden sanctuaries among tourists because it wasn’t a spot frequented a lot. Still, as beautiful and peaceful as it was, it wasn’t a place to surf, and that was what I was looking for. With the right equipment and the right weather it is possible to surf at any time of the year, and I’ve wanted to surf in a place I never surfed before. About thirty minutes away, which can be longer than the map looks because of road conditions as I would later discover, was a surf town called Bonduran(hopefully I’ve spelled this right, I’m sure to whatever Irish folk finds this will scoff and cross it out, scribbling an additional note along the lines of “You bloody idiot”) and I must say if I was to ever own a house, it would have to be either in a beach town or near water. I never felt more at peace, more at home, especially since there was a KFC staring right at me, than I was in that town. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t hold well and I didn’t pack well that day for a torrential downpour, so I trenched through the town soaking wet and tracking water into every place I went. There may not have been any surfing done that day, but I snuck in to listen to a young country artist performing live in a bar where the youngest person was fifty five.
“I think I only stayed for a few songs. I was getting some strange looks, feeling way out of place. I didn’t realize the older locals were enamored by twenty-something year old country artists.”
“How did you have the audacity to go in there by yourself?”
I laugh. ” I barely did. It didn’t last any longer than my usual routine of trying to break out of my comfort zone in order to get more comfortable. I go. I look around. I stay ten minutes. I leave.”
Earlier in the day, before the rain and when the mist and fog were playing tug of war as low hanging clouds watched, I met a kindly old man who used to be a relatively well known folk singer. I met him along a trail that looped over the shore by a historical statue, one that marked the entrance to what he called the Faerie Bridge, even though the actual one was on the Isle of Man, a patch of land somewhere between Ireland and England. I don’t know it he was being whimsical, his creative, musical mind spinning legends and stories layered with half truths and superstition, but he told me anyway, the myth of actual fairies living in a nook under a bridge where children left gifts or notes which would be whisked away, or mysteriously disappear if you were a nonbeliever in magic. But for some reason, I believed, mostly because the idea of magic is so fun to imagine. The world is an extraordinary place with extraordinary things, so why can’t there be magic?
The last thing I did before I made my way south, intending to stop in County Cork but not quite making it, was to heed the advice of two backpackers I met at the inn who, with the support of the innkeeper, suggested I take a hike along a ridge that held the most beautiful view of the land for miles around. I swear I could see far and wide into the depths of at least three different counties, and the climb itself was exhilarating. I strayed from the main path, taking a narrow walk that felt as if I was on a tight rope. One false slip could send me plummeting towards the rocky waters below, so I skirted like a goat, going as far as I dared. I had a late start so I couldn’t walk the entire loop where a scattering of cars sat parked at different points of entrance. I wasn’t too worried that I wouldn’t make it back, yet I didn’t take any chances, knowing my penchant to wind up slightly lost. So I stood, closing my eyes and breathing in the cool breeze whipping across the Irish seas and letting my imagination drift, drift, drift, like a boat in different directions.
Mistake Number Five: Do not ever allow me to take a bus by myself ever again. I depart from County Donegal and make my way to Galway, a small city I surprisingly enjoyed. Most cities are overwhelming, and they hide the openness, confining everything and everyone to a small area, but there was something different about this one, something that made it more open, less overwhelming despite all the usual trappings of a city made. There was also some authenticity in the shape of a market, and I love markets because they offer genuine and unique pieces of work that usually have a story about them. I met a seller, a man who painted exquisite scenes of Ireland from his own perspective on a pieces of stone slab. Perhaps it isn’t that all unique, but to eyes that haven’t seen something ever, my perception leads me to its uncommon quality. That’s the thing about perspective- it is angled from different views observing different experiences happening around. Some may often see a pirate ship sailing the waters while others are used to traveling in bands, performing on the streets. To me, this man brought something unique and he told me he was inspired by his son, someone like me also disabled, and we talked. It was one of the most easy going conversations I ever had with a stranger, and as a result I grew fond of Galway.
I stayed with a woman who was from New York but had been living in Ireland for fifteen years. Her American accent was gone, replaced by one that made it difficult to distinguish her from a native-born Irishwoman. She lived near a park, one that was like a maze that inevitable led to an old castle. Of course, I explored it, weaving my way a long the trail and trying to conjure a story that matched the stony block sticking out in the middle of the small forest. I couldn’t help but wonder what it used to be like, this small castle tucked behind a blossoming city.
In the tower the young girl sat Waiting Her hair pulled back Her chest standing proud Waiting For a father's love And a mother's grace And a brother who can rest His sword Waiting For the next battle to take Him away In the tower the young girl sat Waiting For the colorful draperies To hang above A feast made for those Waiting To take her hand And carry her away To a tower of their Own In the tower the woman sat Waiting In fine robes of silk And silver Waiting For her husband's love Her daughter's grace And a son who can rest His sword Waiting For the next battle To sell his sister Like her mother Winning nothing but land And a waiting To be free
Like I said, do not let me take a bus. I almost missed it, exploring the woods and the castle and falling spellbound to a clear, blue day full of curiosity. I can easily lose track of time exploring, making it hard to show up when I need to and making it hard not to leave room for errors. But I made it, and I took the bus out to Connemara, another beautiful place where you can find this common stone sold in all the tourist shops and made uniquely into jewelry.
“Why did you take a bus when you could have easily just driven?” they ask pointedly.
“You know what you little… nevermind,” they had an excellent point. Why in the world did I take a bus all the way out there when driving for the day would have sufficed? It really would have solved some problems and I would have made it to the drag show out in some bar in Galway. This is what happens when I am left unsupervised.
Once out in Connemara, I decided to rent a bike. The man in charge showed me different routes, and of course I took the longest. It was worth it, biking up and down, weaving left and right, along coast lines and hills, flat plains and a forest terrain, with the wind at my back, blowing in my face, and caressing the muscles working tirelessly. I stopped to drink and eat in an isolated town which possessed a calm, gentle air and of course another market, the stalls sprawled out on a grassy hill overlooking the water. I spent my time perusing, purchasing souvenirs for myself to remember the adventure and for friends and family I wanted to give to. I rested for longer than I should, but I didn’t want to leave. It was a sliver of land, of sanctuary where I could relax without being bombarded or overwhelmed. But eventually, I did leave, stopping again at landmarks that caught my eye. One was a cove, the water twinkling a pale blue and refreshingly cold as I dipped my toes in. The other was a historic trail, a trail I spent too much time and once again just made it back to the rental shop to catch the bus back to Galway.
“Just always have a car. If you have a car, you can take all the time in the world to stop and explore. And it’s always worth exploring. You never know where there might be a waterfall, a trail, a mountain, or an off the beaten path village.”
“So what finally happened with the bus?” they didn’t care to hear that; they were impatient with my longevity, my drawling. Yet a love letter, a sincere love letter, cannot be rushed, and a book of a thousand words is worth just as much as a simple yet meaningful word. Because a thousand words has the effort and time while a single, short word- if it is the right word- can summarize everything.
“Fine. If you want it short and simple, a one word answer without the elegant intricacies that can make language so divine, so expressive…”
They roll their eyes. ” Please, spare me any further theatrics. I was never a theatre kid.”
“But you should have been. You should have been a lot of things, but maybe it’s best you weren’t. Sometimes it better if we do not end up where we want to the most. Because the things, the people, who we actually would like to be, are hidden off the beaten path and turn out being what is actually the best for us,” I muse.
I make it back to Galway, although the numbers were confusing- which went where, why was there two 303’s, did I need to go north or south, which had I taken previously to get here? With not enough time to decide, I hop on a random bus, which I realize slowly was taking me in the opposite direction. I get off at the last stop and make my way back through the dark. My phone had dies so I could not call my host or use my map, relying solely on my memory. For hours I stumble around, knowing I needed to go uphill and through a neighborhood but not knowing which neighborhood. The streets were empty, but if this were America there would be a good chance of me not making it back, depending which part of the country I’m in. It’s funny how often travelers search to go to a place that is safe, not realizing its their own backyard that is dangerous, and I’m lucky to have been in a backyard safer, less rat infested, than mine.
Mistake Number Six: Get there early, and avoid high tourist congregations. But I could not resist; the Cliffs of Moher were right up my alley, a view I could not pass up, even if the steep entry fee was appalling and capitalizing on tourist activity. In fact, so many people were attracted to the cliffs, it was almost unenjoyable. There was a grandiose atmosphere, something insincere with all the picture taking rather than seeing what was there. Of course I took a few pictures, but I wanted to stand there and gaze out at what was natural despite being surrounded by an unnatural set up. It’s the natural I enjoy, and perhaps if I could have snuck back at night and see the stars hitting the water it would have been the right experience, the exclusive experience not cluttered up by unnatural noise. Then I could see and hear what was there: the water crashing among the rocks, the vast emptiness that wasn’t so empty, a quiet companion. I would have probably gotten arrested, but it would have been more worth it and worth the return. I have no desire to go back to these beautiful cliffs, choosing instead to explore what is free and hidden, or at the least not congested and overpriced.
The delay here, and the delay at other hiking spots with waterfalls, caused me to arrive at my next location rather late, and it was not a place to be late to. I am drawn to unique locations and I decided to stay in a caravan in the backyard of an eccentric man who enjoyed tight crop shorts way too much and whose wild white hair shot up like lightning bolts. Parking was a quarter of a mile from the place so he had to come collect me, and he wasn’t exactly thrilled when it was around 10 o clock. To compensate, I agreed even though in reality I didn’t have a choice, to join in later in a game he created based off The Lord of the Rings and Catan. It was interesting, the game, and I was impressed with the creation, although I was unnerved by his energetic fervor, his insistence we play, for I was not the only one on the compound roped into it. We all had a quiet consensus to play along for this man’s sake, who was friendly enough, but their was an edge, something, that caused discomfort.
Perhaps the cause was when I was walking in his garden, finding the small pool to take a jump in, when the elfish mannequins appeared. Every corner I turned, there was one lurking in the bushes or the trees, among the flowers, and staring vacantly, expressionless. Still, the area was nice, the pool cold and refreshing, and the caravan itself comfortable, although the walls were vulnerable to noise, and at night the wind pounded against the board. The creepy sensation had me eager to get out of there and make my way to Dublin before I ended up in the grasp of a serial killer wanting to turn me into one of his dolls.
“Okay, the last part is totally from paranoia and watching too many movies. Also, living in America and listening to true crime podcasts. I’m sure my host was perfectly fine,” I say.
” Did you disregard our rule? Rule number 22: Stranger Danger.”
“If we kept to that rule, we would have no friends.”
Mistake Number Seven: My naivete would have me wander into a suspiciously ritualistic setting and I would think nothing of it. Despite my creepy felling following me like a specter, I was not deterred from my location, exploring the garden and finding old buildings that could either have been used as an alehouse or, thanks to American culture, an old temple where human sacrifices were performed. There was a stone circle nearby, and it was easy to believe my host’s backyard was cozy and comfortable, used for games and campfires that, if I can be logical, seemed innocent and harmless. I am sure they were, and I am sure I will not make it in a horror movie so I better not end up in one.
Before I leave, I drive off to catch a ferry and explore an island nearby. I can’t remember much except I wanted to get away from that creepy feeling, the strange eccentricity of my host, and nothing clears my mind than going for a walk and exploring. There was a history to that island, a history I now forget but would like to go back. It contained some of the loveliest of flowers, the loveliest a views not as well known as some of the others. It felt like I snuck away, hid in a corner that not many people paid attention to while examining a new arrangement of the familiar and unfamiliar. The air seemed different, the earth beneath my feet foreign and made of something otherworldly, but it was still all familiar. I was on the other side of the world, in a place different and same, a place that somehow became unexpectedly comfortable. Usual when I have the good fortune to go out there and see what the world has to offer, I don’t intend to come back. Yet Ireland, even then when I was standing there on top of a hill, was a place I’d keep coming back to, whether I realized it or not, and I’d think about it more times than I thought I would, more times than Iceland, whose isolation was my true love because I believed I am meant to be a lone wolf isolated from the rest of the pack.
That thought, that belief, may have caused a particular weird moment as I sat in a café, eating lunch and wondering what the people I knew were up to. Perhaps it was bumbling the ” You okay” language barrier which meant “What can I get you” and I ended up reeling in sadness. Yes, I was here, exploring, but there were still things I didn’t understand, language and mannerisms and societal expectations. I was not normal; I was, like my eccentric host, too different to be seen in public, and unlike my eccentric host I had not accepted or been happy about it yet. The loneliness was suffocating, and I wanted to bury myself in that caravan and never come out.
But I wanted to watch rugby. I wanted to be around the people who made me laugh, who somehow shared the same taste of music, and who allowed me to be me because they too had their own quirks. So I don’t wait for my host to take me to my car on my last day. I wake up early to the rain, and once again I was not prepared. I hoist my luggage in my arms and hike through knee high water(the place was flooding, and there was no drain of course, so a small river had formed. My waterproof hiking pants had been used earlier, leaving me with jeans and my hiking boots) cursing at my luck the whole time. I pass a couple of horses, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about high-jacking them for a lift, but that probably would have ended in disaster.
Six days. A lot and not a lot happened in those six days leading up to reuniting with my friends. A lot more still happened. The hostel I stayed in introduced me to four roommates from all over the world- Italy, the Netherlands, Papa New Guinea- and I tried to converse with one. Unfortunately, he knew Spanish and a little English while I knew English and a little Spanish. We used universal gestures to communicate, but by the end I wished I understood languages better. I wanted to meet him where he was at, and I couldn’t help being disappointed in myself.
“You know, my Spanish teacher says I should not bother learning Spanish. I’m so terrible at it,” they say, interjecting.
“Yeah. You didn’t have the most supportive teachers,” I reply. ” To be fair, languages are tough, and having a communication disorder does not help.” Perhaps someday, I think, someone will come along and give me the support I need. Otherwise, I’ll have to continue to fight to not give up on myself, and that is made even harder with depression looming like a shadow.
There was a Dutch man I met. It was exciting at first, but then I realized how much into himself he really was. I went out with him, and it was nice having the support of Wanderlust. There was no one I really talked to about guys, if only because the guys interested in me with few and far between, I held little interest in guys, and I preferred to listen to others talk about their guys or their girls, which simultaneously poked at my insecurities. It was a fleeting moment, time used while waiting for the matches to start.
Mistake Number Eight: It was my first time watching international women’s rugby live, so I immediately lose my ticket. Wanderlust came up with a plan, and with a combination of wit and charm- a little back and forth exchange of the two passes among the three of us- I managed to get back in. I like to reward generosity with generosity, and even though I don’t drink, it was nice buying for Wanderlust and James Blond. It was nice to buy someone a drink.
The matches were a blast to watch; the physical prowess, the skills, the swiftness. It was as beautiful as the ballet, in its unique way. Each international team had its own fan club, and the best were Japan’s, a group a children dancing and performing with instruments as if they were the ballet, the concert. People couldn’t help but join in, and their team, small but lithe and fiercely determined, was my favorite to watch, with James Blond by my side and Wanderlust passed out sleeping on the bench. The others had left, disinterested in what ended up arguably being the best game of the day. We would meet up later, on the campus of Trinity College where James Blond was staying because apparently they rent rooms as if they were a hotel( the one major takeaway I got from Trinity, other than the fact that students apparently love to perform plays naked, and that it housed a rather extensive library, was that it suffered heavily from sexism, a common thing in Ireland which can also be seen in some of its sports where women still wear skirts instead of the more practical shorts, although it could be debated there is some choice in the matter. It is said that the women who graduate stop at the statue of the provost who basically hated woman and perform some kind of obscene gesture). Trinity College was well worth the visit, so intricate and rich with history. Dublin itself is rifled with history. So much so it all begins to blur, and I can’t remember which tours I did what with who.
I know I was able to explore Croke Park with James Blond, explore its stadium, which I would unexpectedly but still pleasantly, do again with the Bandana Bandit, and all of its stories. There are so many stories, and not enough time to tell them all. There are the common stories and the not so common stories, and it is well worth knowing them all, sharing them too, if possible.
“It was hard, leaving. Harder than I thought. I had the fortune to have the best of both world. I was able to wander by myself and wander with a pack depression tries so bad to make me forget are my pack,” I look out at the waiting sea, and it radiated with a love it doesn’t expect to be reciprocated but nevertheless is. ” But there was never a single instant where I regretted my decision to go. I would do it all again, with the right people, the same right people, and the same place. I fell in love with Ireland the same way I fell in love with the sea; by swimming its length over and over again, catching droplets and letting them rest on my skin.”
They nod, and I see my words have carried them off to sleep, the postcard flapping beneath the bench. I grab it, stuff it within the stack they carry in their pocket, before wondering where we should go, what we should do, but the warm wind is content on letting us stay here, and it points to a tent, empty and abandoned, laying on its side.
I carry my companion over to the tent. I work with it, and the wind doesn’t fight me. It allows it to stand on its own legs, and I throw my companion inside before turning back to the sea. It whispers softly, the waves breaking gently onto the sand.
I smile and go inside, resting my eyes but still thinking, still dreaming, of the Irish Seas.