travel bits from a tramp abroad: the meet-up



By the time Allison arrived in Dublin she had to chip the ice off me. She’s been studying abroad in Swansea, Wales since January; this was a much more mature young woman.

As the trip went along she became mother figure and I her child. She was the Expert of All Things. She said this was how things would be someday, anyway.

Not if I can help it. Desperate times, desperate measures, softly into that good night.

We developed new personas. She became “ma,” calling me “little Timmy” or “little Jimmy.” She kept forgetting my name.

Allison: “Come on, little Timmy! You can do it!”

Me: “Shut up, ma! And it’s JIMMY!”

Like the blow up sex doll in Connolly station, no one thought this unusual. Or they were afraid to make eye contact.

I was lagging from seven and a half hours in hell next to an Irishman in polyester and she was tired from the ferry crossing, five hour layover in Rosslare (the core of all hell) and train ride up to Dublin. We still walked around. You can’t not. We oriented ourselves, tramping up and down the Liffey.

We found Christ Church Cathedral. Underneath is a huge vault area made into a museum of sparkly things, taking away dark corners I could sneak into, jumping out to scare the living crap out of Allison. I felt sad.

For a cathedral, Christ Church is okay. It didn’t have any really cool dead people I cared about. I thought Jonathan Swift was under marble there. I went from tomb to tomb, knocking. He never answered.

The floor was lovely and the vaulted ceiling majestic. The stained glass was pretty. The outside’s better.

Inside the choir was practicing. Prickles on the back of the neck.

We had tickets to the Dublin Literary Festival. Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright and Hugo Hamilton discussing “translating Irish literature.” Allison was so thrilled she could barely keep her eyes open.

I had the idea the event was in Dublin Castle, probably because I read somewhere that it was in Dublin Castle. We wasted time searching nooks and crannies, ma stopping to take photos.


I pulled out the tickets and read them. Magical fairy dust transported us to the venue.

Allison calls Sebastian Barry “your boyfriend,” which I would like to clarify is TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE. I’ve become branded “she who doth protest too much” and am TRAUMATIZED. No one cares.

Where is my redemption? Lost. Dead. Good night.

We settled far enough back not to be seen. The lights went down. The strip of lights directly above us shone on. Great.

It was mostly Hugo Hamilton, brought up by Anne Enright, with a dash of Sebastian Barry. Irish literature has nuances difficult to translate into foreign languages or American English. Now you don’t have to google it.

Ma fell asleep on my shoulder. I nudged her that we can just go.

“Aren’t you staying to talk to your boyfriend?”

I wasn’t smelling fresh and my hair. Dear god, my hair.

We slept like the dead under marble.





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