You can muster up an awful sense of grá for this country when you drive across it at seven a.m. on a Saturday morning, when the grey dawn lingers longer than expected for this time of year and the trees on the lonely hills loom out of the mist like hungry ghosts in search of recognition and the new lambs spring about with such exuberance that it causes you to remain silent with so much awe that you are experiencing just by observing what is beyond your car window. I should say that grá is the Irish word for love. It is pronounced as 'graw' and it is a strong word. Say it. Grá.
Out in the middle of Ireland you can forget everything because nothing has changed. The stone walls are still the same crooked, intricate walls that have been there forever. The smoke from the chimneys is the same and the nests of houses, typically gathered near an edging of trees tends to satisfy the soul, draw you in, even suggest you stop and refuel the senses. Out in the middle of Ireland there is no recession, no Celtic Tiger ruins, no, nothing only land and freedom.
But we were heading to the city to buy furniture and so I contemplated my Ireland in a silent way and dreaded the chaos of the metropolis, the traffic, the constant movement that awaited me.
There is a big parking lot full of cars and horns and people. There are shops to bait you in. Shiny things and glamorous clothes and beautiful people and homeless people by the score begging for money or food or whatever you can give them. There is a big river that looks dirty to me. There is a Starbucks or ten Starbucks or more and there are so many lights telling you when to go and when to stop. We walk fast in the city. I tell H to speed up. He looks out of place. I keep seeing him down at the vegetable patch loading up earth. I am thinking about baking cakes. Everybody moves at the same time, like an avalanche we cross the streets when we are told to cross.
The furniture store has everything you could wish for; amazing tables crafted from tin, lampshades with handmade birds imported from France, Shaker chairs so beautiful I could cry, cushions with patterns I could never imagine, couches and chairs and footstools and so much that it overwhelms. But we keep looking and find what we are looking for. We sit. We measure. We imagine our living room at home in the country with the big window and the big sky beyond. We turn off the florescent lights in the store and lie down on the couch, H sits in the arm chair, I hug the footstool.
And our son comes from the college library to meet us for lunch. His bag of books on his back. He looks tired. Yet, he looks stimulated and hungry for life and so at ease in this city that it seems that he has left us far behind. I want to hug him and take him home but I know that is my own small world talking. Nothing more than that.
And so we say goodbye, drive home back over the darkening land. Across the miles to home to where it seems that we have our own peace, our own satisfaction. And all that grá I felt was even stronger by the time we got back to our warm house, the simple bowl of pasta, the glass of ruby wine, the wind rising up coming in from the bay and so I took off my shoes, spread myself out and glided over the floorboards like someone who had just arrived in a place I never ever wanted to leave again and there was nothing to tell me when to stop or, for that matter, when to go...