|Resting at the Rock of Cashel|
Can you believe it? We met! It's been almost a year since I zipped up my confidence, buttoned down my brave and stepped on that plane that delivered me into your glorious arms. Thanks for waiting for me all those years. I know you sensed something was missing until I got there.
I remember the many long ago Thursday evenings sitting at home by the stereo that had the built-in cassette player. I'd listen to "Music of the Isles" and record all your beautiful ballads and a few choice dance tunes. That was before I knew a jig from a reel from a hornpipe and had never raised a fiddle to my chin. But your poetic rhythms stole my heart and fostered a magical lucid dream that I'm still wandering through and can't seem to wake from.
In grad school I studied your folklore and felt that mystical allure that makes Americans smile and nod with recognition. A refugee from a lost tale, I felt a twinge of homesickness, a longing for a kingdom I'd never seen that lay far beyond my reach but not forgotten. I wrote a paper on the variants of Lazy Jack (okay, not the most romantic Celtic tale) and made a slide show (high tech!) featuring a menagerie of denizens of fairy land. Enchantment galore, but it was mostly on me.
Now, in discovering the real you, I've started to grasp the nuances of your culture and the sweetness of your spirit. No longer mythical, but fully come to life in ways both surprising and familiar. Elves and leprechauns don't interest me, but ancient passage tombs and desolate abbeys are as intoxicating as pints of Guinness and send me staggering from stone to stone to encounter my ancestors and find my link in the chain.
Maybe that's the whole draw..... to find my place, discover more about me than what the present can offer. If I can be here and then there, geographically speaking, then I can sense the here and there of the ages..... of culture and religion and the arts and most everything. Like rambling through the ruins of a medieval castle, maybe I can identify some of the rubble and do some rebuilding. Don't we all have rubble that's lying underfoot just waiting to be restored or remade into something elegant for the future? Life is good, but it can always be better.
And so, dearest Ireland, tomorrow I'll toss my fiddle case across my back, once again bid St. Pete a fond farewell and resume the journey that began a year ago. Do you care if I stay all summer, because that's the plan? Doc will be waiting for me at Shannon and be my tour guide (and more!) through this summer of learning, growing and searching for pieces of myself among your ancient debris and present-day bounty. Can't wait to see what I find!