It was good to be home. The first thing I did, once the dogs stopped mauling me with their canine appreciation of my presence, was to light the big fat cream-coloured candle on the kitchen table. It was that kind of day, soupy, misty, ghostly and the light, even from the humble candle meant a great deal.
It was a batten down the hatches day, a why not open that amazing organic bottle of Corbiére day, a let's pull the curtains early kind of day.
We had gone on a journey to a town an hour from Galway. It doesn't seem far but believe me it is when driving conditions on the motorway make you feel as if you are barreling through a water slide at excessive speed wearing lousy goggles. Visibility was zilch. I cursed the Atlantic ocean. The incessantly low fronts and the fairies.
But the most upsetting element of the journey was my encounter with two women, clearly American, clearly in a rental car, clearly lost. They waved at me like maniacs at the traffic lights as we were leaving Galway. I rolled down my window.
'Shannon Airport?', the driver called out.
I said, 'Yes, you are on the right road, just follow the signs'.
They smiled then, an innocent traveller kind of smile, of acceptance and belief in my directions.
At the next set of lights there they were again and feeling almost a keen sense of caring for their destiny I rolled down the window before the lights changed from red and shouted to them to follow the signs for Limerick. It is only now that I am sure they thought I said to, Just follow me. But we were headed East. The airport was South.
The penny dropped some ten miles down the motorway. I could see them barreling up behind me. Arms flailing in a rental car that should have been going in the other direction. Two frantic American women lost in Ireland. It was all my fault. They were probably going to miss their flight home. They passed me out at break neck speed and before I knew it had hit the exit into the depths of Ireland, into a mist that no man could ever traverse. I saw the woman throw her hands up in disgust. She was driving. The other woman looked hysterical. They had taken a nowhere exit into a place of a zillion stone walls and suspicious sheep and bored old farmers standing at roadsides waiting for such excitement. A something to drum up their dull Sunday. They must have been arguing and I am quite positive that there was a mutual blaming of the odd looking Irish woman back at the lights, in the weird hat who actually had the audacity to give them the thumbs up. To urge them on into bewilderment.
I hope they found the airport but to be honest, I doubt it. The mist can make everything, the entire land look like a set of uniform cookies and you can drive in circles until the cows, literally come home.
So I thought about the Americans all day. That's why I lit the candle. I hoped they finally understood that my thumbs up did not mean for them to follow me but that it was more for solidarity. Because I know what it's like to be lost. To be running in circles even with a gigantic map at hand.
I like to think the two American women eventually ended up in a nice old manor house where they decided to stay over, to dine on Venison and sleep in Egyptian Cotton sheets and the next morning after a delightful breakfast cooked by the man of the house headed off in the direction of the airport as the mist broke, gave way to a blue sky and green fields and even then, might have had the insight that travel is always prone to throw up a few curve balls now and without them, why bother travelling at all? The road is not always cut and dried. The mist takes care of that. And women in funny hats at red lights only have the best of intentions. Honestly.