Monday, June 7, 2010

A Younger Man in Dublin

Last week I spent a few days in Dublin; mostly for work with a Saturday for myself tacked on to the end of the trip.

The last time I'd been in Ireland was the end of September 1997. I tried to resurrect those memories so I could compare the then to the now. My remembrances were more like flipping through a set of random snapshots. "T'anks a million," I heard that 100 times when the Irish would get off the bus. I took a lot of buses back then. The All-Ireland Gallic football tournament had filled the city to overflowing, so I had to stay at a bed & breakfast in Donnybrook, which is a suburb just outside of Dublin proper, but it made me think of the failed Broadway musical based on the "The Quiet Man." (I didn't know any of the songs or even the plot though a vague vision of the LP cover would flash into my mind each time I boarded that bus to Donnybrook.)

I met an Irishman in a gay bar and asked him to dinner. I had wanted a proper Irish dinner.

"You'll have to bear with me, but if I wanted to eat Irish food I could just as well go home to my mom and dad." I asked him what he'd like. "Mexican," he replied.

I remember pints of Guinness that had to sit and settle before getting topped off. It looked like black sludge but tasted piquant and creamy. That hadn't changed in thirteen years.

Mostly I had this sense of my 27 year old self compared to the man who will turn 40 this Fall. Dublin had been my third trip out of the United States in 1997, after Warsaw and London. I had a job that had sent me to those cities for a month or more at a time. Dublin was tacked on to the end of the London trip. Those had also been my first trips abroad in my life. Coming from New York I had felt so cosmopolitan, but my almost 40 self knows that I was really a young man, a boy perhaps, wandering into a world that was much, much broader than I had any sense of.

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