fourteen – dubliners

As someone born on Bloomsday, I appreciate Joyce.

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(Okay, that’s actually a bit of a lie. When we read Dubliners in high school, Allison was the one who loved it; I was the one who said, “Ehhhh.)

Since said days of disdain, however, I have come to appreciate Joyce (even though, more than likely, he will never be one of my favorite authors), and I’ve definitely gained an appreciation for Dubliners, whether person or narrative.

That being said, let me introduce you to some of the Dubliners that have made my few weeks in Ireland so memorable. I haven’t actually met all of these people, per se, but they have all, however unconsciously, influenced my time here.

Like that man in the truck who drove down Harbour Road in Dun Laoghaire with the windows down, singing opera at the top of his lungs and reducing Eileen & me to a giggling fit of appreciation and admiration…

… or the tourist walking down Capel Street saying, “I guess you really like it here, don’t you?” to her friend right as she passed me and two of my friends…

… and let’s not forget Florence, the Catholic nurse who was handing out free medallions and pamphlets and took an instant (and I do mean instant) liking to me, an elderly woman with a kind face and a light heart, whose patients would tease her about being another Florence Nightingale and who had complete faith that I was (a) completely lovely and (b) would be a marvelous physician, who offered encouragement in that field on a day when I was (again) questioning what I’m doing with my life…

… or, naturally, Finbar, the second actor in the literary pub crawl that I attended my second week here, who decided that I should be a detective because – That’s a great name! You should be a detective with that name, but not a policeman, more like a private eye! You could wear one of those hats  – 

Then there was the young man sitting in the quad outside of the dorms, reading the paper and calmly smoking his pipe, after a morning full of kind advice from many people in many departments within TCD, and even before that there were those three men who whistled their way past me quite literally, comparing different trills and tunes and admitting the complexity of some and the ease of others.

Weeks ago, there was a little girl on the bus who was traveling with her grandfather and became distraught to the point of crying, “THAT WAS OUR STOP!!!!” which her loving grandfather kindly, quietly pointed out was not the case, and they had a good thirty minutes to go. Or those other little girls — the two on the upper level of a 25 bus headed home, looking down at the pedestrians and people waiting for their own buses. I made a silly face at the one who caught my eye, startling her out of her reverie and making her grab the other. We exchanged more silly faces, winks, and giggles (including some from their mom, who was sitting in front of them), and parted the best of friends with small waves as their bus drove off a minute or two later.

Last night it was two friends walking through college with a giant trail of balloons; this morning it was the student checking membership cards at the entrance to the Philosophical Society’s breakfast event in a rather bemused and embarrassed manner; this evening, it was the two-hundred-plus people that turned up for the Harry Potter quiz event hosted by the sci fi society — so many that, actually, half of us had to relocate and find a second pub in which to have the quiz.

Most of all, though, there is that quiet smile lurking in the corners of a new friend’s eyes, welcoming & encouraging & calming & amusing & warming all at once…

…and, of course, the eccentric old man who hung up a cage with two cockatoos on the gates of St. Stephen’s Green after the park closed for the night.

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