On the Road II: Withdrawl

August 2
The last couple of days have been tough. It’s pretty impossible to get any time away from my parents. All I want to do is sit quietly and watch people, but Mom won’t let me go anywhere by myself. I found my way around Dublin by myself for six weeks – they never gave us directions, just told us a time and a place. And yet, I managed to survive. But now, it’s like I have no ability – apparently, I can’t read maps or follow road signs. It’s horrible. Roundstone was a town that literally had one street. How am I supposed to get lost in a town that only has one street?
I don’t really have any time to do any real writing, either. Just documenting. Like, about the trip to the Aran Islands. That was wonderful. I was happy to be with my parents then – touring the island of Inishmore, seeing the fort, and I even got a sweater made ON the island. I’m really excited about it. But I can only spend three or so days with my parents, constantly by their side, before I start to feel like I’m going to strangle someone. I’m just not used to spending so much time with people.

Before we came to Sligo, we stopped in Cong, very small town, almost impossible to get lost, though we did manage to lose each other for a few minutes looking through the old monastery/cemetery there.
The Irish are very pragmatic when it comes to utilizing space. Nothing is wasted. When a church is falling apart (they don’t tear them down, because, unlike our country’s Puritan founders, they revere what they see as holy relics – the Puritans never liked to put any stock in earthly things) and the graveyard is full, they start burying people within the old building’s crumbling walls. But it was beautiful there. Huge trees, clear water, and green, green grass. By far the most beautiful grounds of any holy place I’ve seen.

In Sligo Abbey, there was a grave marker with the family name, date of death, and details about the mother chipped away. Or maybe they weren’t details about the mother. Maybe the (vandal?) chipper had removed the words, “May he rest in peace.”

Sligo Abbey is pretty full of death. Near the Abbey are the ruins of a private home built using stones taken from the Abbey that was out of use by that time (18th Cent.). I guess living on such a small island teaches a society how to make use of everything.
Went to the museum today. Mom, Dad, and Lynne are going to his grave to pay homage, but I just can’t. I can’t survive wtihout time to myself – silence and stillness. Both are necessary for me to maintain some semblence of sanity.


Sorry I Didn’t Visit, Mr. Yeats

A family built their home
With stones
Taken from the Abbey
And its cemetary
Where graves became unmarked.
Long lost Christian bone
Missing soul that disembarked
Years ago and gone
To worlds unknown
Perhaps beyond the Hill of Tara.

The alter stands alone
Remaining
Without its sacred tome
To give it meaning
So ferns and flowers grow
Through the cracks that are
Ever lengthening

A man’s existence can be erased
With a chisel taken to the stone
That once marked his eternal place
But now serves as a mantle
For the family’s fireplace
Inside their modest home.

August 3
Getting on a plane tomorrow. Good thing we’re not staying two nights in this B&B. The hostess is so uptight. She has little signs posted everywhere with the house rules. She has to have everything just so. Not the type of person who should be welcoming strangers into her home. It’s called Rathview House in Swords. Beware. Beware.
I did end up seeing Yeats’ grave. On the way out of Sligo, Dad stopped the car so Mom could get into her bag and I could have a look at the man’s grave. Not what I expected, but now that I’ve seen it, I realize that it’s exactly what Yeats would have wanted. Maybe even too elaborate for his taste. It’s kept very clean so that it looks like new. Also on the way out of town, I saw, from a distance, Queen’s Maeve’s burial mound. She’s purported to be buried standing up, facing the enemy. I read in “The Feckin’ Book” that in her time it was said that she bedded up to thirty men in a day. She must have been exhausted. My hat is off, Queen Maeve.
Stopped by to see Maggie Delaney on the way to Swords. Stayed for less than half an hour. We might have had more time if we hadn’t stopped in Ballyshannon first. There was a “French” market going on there. Apparently, “French” just means “open air” market to the Irish. There was nothing French about it. Except all of the French-speaking tourists.
Down the road from Maggie’s house is an old mill, all crumbling and full of trees, overgrown with ivy and moss and raspberry bushes.

I with we couuld have spent more time there, in Keenaugh, with Maggie and looking at the Mill, but we were off to Swords, where we ate at a tavern called The Cock and served boring food like the type you would get at Applebees. The menus said, “Tommy Guns, Burger Heaven, USA.” Weird. Our uptight hostess recommended it. Should have guessed that that anal retentive priss would sent us to a shitty place like that to get dinner. She probably thinks it’s rustic.
Still reading Bibbonne. This book has a lot of typos, but it’s really interesting. Learning a lot about rural life in Ireland from the 1920s to the 1970s.

August 8
Holy shit! So busy these last couple of days – and when I wasn’t busy, I sat on my ass and drank.
I read half of “A Star Called Henry” by Roddy Doyle on the filght home. It’s freaking awesome. Almost finished with it now. After spending a few days at home, we’re up in St. Paul to visit the Tessiers. Mom and Dad have taken Sammy to the zoo. He’s learned about a million new words since I last saw him. Now he babbles like he’s paid to do it. Meredith and Andrew are getting ready to go to a wedding and after Mom and Dad bring Sam home and put him to bed, we’re all going to sit down and watch “The Quiet Man,” which I’ve wanted to watch since the second week I was in Ireland. After visiting Cong, where it was filmed, I wonder if any of the locations will look familiar or if it all will have changed too much. At least we know the pub will look the same.

August 10
Left St. Paul this afternoon and arrived in Spencer at about 4:30pm. It’s bloody awful hot in the upstairs with no air conditioning. It’s hard to imagine that Grandma All’s house came from a catalogue for $600.
I’ll see Ilse in a couple of days and we’ll talk about how we miss Ireland. I felt really nostalgiac watching “The Quiet Man” though we were only in Cong for an afternoon. A little more than a week ago, it was.
I already miss Sammy, too. He loves water. His favorite things to do at home are to play in the kitchen sink (“washy” he calls it) and to play with a hose attached to a small, plastic fire hydrant that hooks up to the garden hose. He also loves bath time. He likes trucks and ball – “golf!” he knows. Daddy must have taught him about golf. He also loves to walk Nadia. She’s still very tolerant of him, though not quite as attached to him as she is to Meredith and Andrew. Mom and I make sure we spoil her whenever we visit. I gave her chunks of hamburger and the strips of pure fat from my bacon accompanied by maple syrup leftover from the awesome waffles Meredith makes.

Tonight we took Grandma out to dinner and showed her pictures from our trip. Tomorrow we’re taking her out to breakfast and then it’s back to Davenport so I can get my teeth cleaned. The dentist found two cavities a few days ago – one for each year since I was last there. Ooops.
John Rogers told us before we left for Ireland that the return home would be more difficult than the trip there. All I can tell is that I’ve been irritable.

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