Thursday, March 17, 2011
And To That Isle, One Day I Shall Return
When I was a teenager I had this poster sticky-tacked to my bedroom wall.
This St. Patrick's day, in honor of the Irish, I have liberated myself from tyranny.
The tyranny of corned beef and cabbage.
I don' t like corned beef and cabbage, I don't like the boiled potatoes and carrots, and yet I'd allowed them to ruin my only March holiday for years. This year, I declared: no more.
I told Mr. V I wanted something elegant.
For St. Patrick's day?!?! He cried in disbelief.
Pub food then, I answered. Fish and chips. With Guinness.
Fine, said he.
I declared I should bake us a chocolate cake with green icing.
Corned beef and cabbage has released its icy grip, and our hearts can celebrate the Irish once again.
My grandma always wears a "Kiss Me I'm Irish" pin and for years we thought she was "just joking". Then we discovered we really do have ancestors from Ireland.
I'm not going to get all smug about it though, because we also have ancestors from England. They came in the 1600's. Which means there's a good chance some snobbish Saxon grandfather of ours spent his days hanging "Irish Need Not Apply" signs in his pub windows.
When I was sixteen, I landed in Shannon, Ireland.
We drove in a tour bus along the Shannon river. The bus broke down and we wandered around the most charming, perfectly Irish village you could imagine. Thatched roofs, cobblestone streets, and a pub bursting song and fiddle and clinking glass into the emerald and gold tinted evening. We bought Adidas pants with orange stripes down the side, they were uncomfortable but in that year.
Everyone called me "love" and I liked to fancy it was because I looked like them.
Ireland was stunningly beautiful and I felt those old pagan people in my blood the entire time we were there, listening to Natalie Merchant's "King of May" over and over again on my discman and letting my imagination take me on beautiful adventures in other times.
I turned seventeen in Dublin. I went into a music store and talked to a young Irishman about Irish music. It was brave of me, at seventeen I was afraid of boys.
Somewhere in County Cork, or maybe along the Ring of Kerry, I bought the claddagh ring that I wear today as a wedding ring, because my aquamarine wedding stone offered itself up to the gods of the Pacific.
Ireland was lush, tropical. There were palm trees and enormous flowering plants. I still don't understand that.
Once on St. Patrick's day I went to Starbucks.
I was sitting by the door.
An older gentlemen with a white beard and a newsboy cap passed me. As he did, he spoke in a thick brogue:
"A redhead wearing green on St. Patrick's day! Takes me back to home." And he winked in a charming Irish way as he passed through the door.
It was way better than that time the homeless busker on the 16th street mall called me "little freckles" and said I was "looking good" mid-improvised song.
I was only eleven.
I am Vesuvius and I dream of everywhere, but today I dream of Ireland.