Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Irish rain

I hear from Babaloo and -Ann that it's raining in Ireland again. Or maybe still.

That reminds me of my first trip there, in early spring of 1990, when it rained most of the time.

I was traveling with a woman friend--not a close friend, but someone I got along with OK. She was a ballet dancer and the daughter of a rich doctor. She was getting married, and she wanted to travel abroad before her wedding day. I told her I'd go with her, if we could go to Ireland. She said she didn't care where she went.

So on the last day of March, we flew to Shannon.

We rented a little lunchbox-sized car with a manual choke and a stick shift. I did all the driving, because she could only drive an automatic. She wanted to go to Waterford and buy crystal, but I wanted to stay in the small towns of the West and (as I put it, earnestly) "walk through fields of sheep."

We weren't well suited as travel companions, and we weren't very good at communicating. I was passive aggressive, and she was whiny. I learned to get my way not by standing up for myself, but through trickery; when we got to an appealing-looking small town, I'd feign weariness and say I was tired of driving and needed to rest.

She got her revenge by doing complicated leg stretches in the car that made it almost impossible for me to shift gears.

We ended up in Dingle for a couple of days. It was beautiful--steep streets, green hills, small dark pubs, colorful dinghys bobbing in the harbor. Fields of sheep. One afternoon we hiked along the waterfront to an old watchtower. The clouds opened up and the rain came down in torrents. There was nothing else to do but hike the two miles back to our b&b in the rain.

I will never forget walking along the road, my legs soaked, my blue rain poncho whipping around me, the grey and green waves crashing on the shore. Lila trudged beside me, her head down, complaining vigorously . Her legs were wet. Her feet were wet. Her head was wet. She was so fucking tired of being so fucking wet all the fucking time.

Rain sluiced down my face and finally I said, "Yeah, well, I'm wet too, you know."

She didn't even look up. "Yeah," she said. "But you don't mind."

The picture above was taken just minutes before the rain started. She was right. I didn't mind. I didn't mind a bit. Better to be soaking wet in Ireland than to be warm and dry at home.