Twenty years ago I assisted Grace with Kiahs birth. We haven’t seen each other for maybe fifteen years but when she read on Facebook that I was traveling she invited me to stay with her in Kilkenny. Ironically Kilkenny is exactly where my grandmothers family, the Futons owned land for three centuries.
Kilkenny is a medieval town in southeast Ireland. They call it the sunny southeast but I’ve yet to see more than a few minutes of sun. They also say is the ninth friendliest place in the world as well as the the gay Capitol of Ireland. I wonder if one has anything to do with the other.
When I switched from the ferry to the bus I bought coffee at the station and spent my time talking with the man who owned the cart. His name was Muhammed from Pakistan. He said he and his wife had always wanted to visit America and he asked me question after question about different parts of the country and how friendly they are or are not to Muslims. He asked why we elected George W. and about our corrupt congress that created a world economic crisis. I said I didn’t vote for Bush, either one and he said “well, no, of course not you…I don’t mean you.”
Those of us who really had very little to do with the fact that Brits now pay tuition in London and there is no socialized medicine in Ireland should get to wear some kind of patch on our bag or something. In London Cash told me that the Brits can’t stand Americans because we lie and cheat and steal from the rest of the world. How sad.
Mohammad and I talked until my bus arrived and I gave him a US quarter and I told him to save it until they make it to America. I said that alone it wouldn’t actually buy him anything but I’ve heard its good luck to carry a coin from where you are traveling to. He said it would be his good luck coin and he would carry it in his pocket until they made it to New York. I said no….west coast. It’s nicer there, we talk to strangers and pick up hitch hikers and make better beer- and we didn’t all vote for Bush.
I arrived in Kilkenny after only sleeping for an hour or so on the ferry floor and none on the hour long bus ride from the terminal. I was beat and hungry but I quickly found a place to get breakfast and tea and called Grace for directions to here house. She suggested taking a cab but I had been traveling overnight and thought a walk would be nice.
I remember hiking up the South Sister with a backpack full of camping gear a couple of years ago and about four hours in feeling like I might literally die on the trail as I was dripping sweat and every muscle in my body was either aching or burning. I knew if I sat down at all I’d still be sitting there weeks later when the first snow fell. This walk through town after ten hours travel and an hour of curling up on the ferry floor with my down jacket as both a pillow and a blanket was a little like that. A little, minus the sweat, plus the cold and rain. I was cursing the chocolate bars and the yoga mat and the extra shoes and the flapjacks and every unnecessary thing in my pack down to the chap stick and extra socks and my book that I was feeling quite sure I could live without at this point. I packed light but 40 or so pounds is still 40 or so pounds. I decided then that I’m either not as bad-ass as I thought I was or far more so simply because I didn’t actually die on the roadside.
A short nap and three pints of Guinness with my old friend in front of the fire in a dark pub was good medicine. That coupled with coming back to the house and reading the note on the fridge that says “At the end of the day ask yourself, has your life brought joy to you? Has your life brought joy to others?” I soon forgot my aching back and sleepless night and thought only of how much joy I really do have in my life.