Monday, June 4, 2012
The Ireland of Postcards
The last week was a lovely one. With my parents I was able to get off the beaten track a little and see some of the gorgeous Irish countryside. We took a tour to Connemara that was made complete with a visit to Kylemore Abbey, feeding a pony, looking at all the ruins of houses that were vacated during the famine, an old Friary, lupines, lakes, mountains, and many shades of green.
We spent a night on Inish Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands that has a population in the wintertime of 800 residents. It’s a place that feels a little bit magical, with fog rising over endless old stone walls, the Neolithic ruins of Dun Aonghasa, and more bicyclists than cars on the road. Most people speak Irish in their daily lives there, and it’s a place that feels like a transplant from another time.
Most of our time, however, was spent in Galway, where we walked a lot and talked a lot and ate a lot of good food. My parents were just as enchanted with it as I was, and we were spoiled at a B & B with homemade bread and Bon Iver playing in the mornings. It was kind of perfect.
When my family came to see me in Morocco at Christmas, my brother-in-law aptly noted that my family tends to only make a decision when there is complete consensus. He is absolutely right. A stranger might find our conversations while traveling somewhat insane. We tend to spend too much time suggesting things, and too little time deciding. It is frustrating at times, our tendency to try too hard not to step on anyone’s toes if they really did want to go back to that café, or if they secretly wanted to spend ten minutes longer at the museum. It is a bit ridiculous. It is also ridiculously endearing. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
It means that after ten months where I have (mainly) been on my own, I adore these negotiations. I roll my eyes but adore the eccentricities--my Dad’s overly enthusiastic attempts to find the small town Irish charm of Galway (a family-run bakery that closed down in honor of a relative who had died, the gift of hard cider he received from just poking around a cheese monger’s shop), my mother’s tendency to photograph signage and stop in front of every flower. They make me laugh, they make me love them.
I have my own eccentricities, of course, but it is the ones in others that we tend to notice. It is the ones that are noticed even more when you’re used to being on your own. You notice the eccentricities; you notice the negotiations, the compromises, the coordinating. Most of all, you notice the difficulty and the gift that arises from sharing a place, and in that place, the things we do for the ones we love.