Back home in Denver, my kids went to a neighborhood school about five blocks from our house. They could have walked to school on their own, but I enjoyed walking with them so, barring an early morning meeting at the University, I’d usually walk them to their school and then hop on my bike and then ride in to work. In the afternoon, I’d hop back on my bike at 3:15 and arrive just as the school bell rang.
Things are a bit different in Ireland, though. The Girl gets picked up by a bus every morning because her school is on the other side of town and with the Irish weather, walking that far everyday could result in a soaking wet child before the school day begins.
The first few days, Sujata walked to the bus stop with her but today she walked out on her own proclaiming, “I have to get used to doing this myself.” It doesn’t matter to her that we just stick our heads out the door and watch until the bus picks her up.
The Boy’s school is well within walking distance, so I walk with him in the morning and pick him up in the afternoon. We started a little practice that I hope continues for the rest of our time here: He walks out of the school at the end of the day, gives me a hug and says, “Let’s go get a cup of tea and talk about our day.” There’s nothing one could say to that except, “Okay! Let’s go!”
Today was a kind of special day because I got a new bike with a rack over the back wheel so rather than walking home, he hopped on the back of the bike and we rode all the way home.
We got home around 5 pm. He trundled into the kitchen where he spilled the contents of his backpack all over the floor and the table and started a spirited conversation with Lu and Sujata about his school day.
I had one of those typical “settling in” days that was mostly comprised of standing in lines, buying stuff for the house, opening a bank account and trying to figure out how to order a garbage bin for the house. Fun stuff. Oh, and of course, at the bank, during my greatest point of frustration, they’re playing The Eagles’ “Greatest Hits” over the loudspeakers. Thank god I got out of there before “Hotel California” came on. Who knows what I would have done, although it did make me think that the line from the song, “We are all just prisoners here/Of our own device,” stupid as it is, would basically sum up how I’d feel about being in the States right now, if I were there. And, as bad as The Eagles are, they are at least good Lefties so I won’t be able to make fun of them about playing at #45’s inauguration.
By the time I got home I was frustrated and anxious so I laced up my running shoes, popped my earbuds in and went for a run. The Irish call apartment complexes ‘estates’ and in the middle of the estate where we live is a very large Gaelic football and hurling pitch with a gravel running track around the perimeter of the pitch. It takes me about 5:40 to do one loop so I suspect that track is something like three quarters of a mile. It was cold and sunny in Maynooth today and by the time I got to the track, there was a brisk wind kicking up.
After spending most of the day under fluorescent lights and breathing recycled air, it felt good, to be out in the elements and to feel the hard ground underfoot and the cold wind in my face. As I turned east on my second lap, I looked up to the sky and there was a full moon hanging over the pitch. I wondered what the moon looked like over the Irish Sea, just 15 miles from where I was. I looked down and the reflection of the moon illuminated the gravel path. Nick Cave was singing something about a lime tree arbor and there was a moment where everything just felt right.
Ireland will do that to you if you let it.