In downtown Galway sits a rock.
(okay. There are a lot of rocks around that area. But this is… a particular rock.)
I’ve been meaning to get a picture of it for several days, since I was first informed of it and managed to spot it close by the bridge I have crossed probably a couple of dozen times by now. But I suppose in a way it is appropriate I kept forgetting until this morning, literally en route to the bus.
Here is the rock
See, Seattle and Galway are sister cities.
This is the shortest route too bad I am not a Super Lava Resistant Mole Person
As I hastily snapped these pictures, I imagined I could feel it – that invisible line. The cord that tugs the heart towards home.
Many posts ago, I contemplated the feeling of pulling a thread behind me. Today I wondered if rather than stitching, the better metaphor might be of weaving; my journey the dance of the weft through a warp laid years, or in some cases, lifetimes, ago.
It is time to switch, now, from picking to battening; to put down the shuttle, and pick up the reed. This portion of pattern is laid now, but I’m only going to be able to discern it fully once I’ve pulled it all together. I have no idea how long that process will take; perhaps years.
(no, I am not a weaver, and yes my metaphor has some technical issues. It is also past midnight on my very last day in this country, my flight leaves in less than seven hours, and I am not planning to sleep tonight in hopes of tricking my body into adjusting to a new sleep schedule appropriate to my destination. So while I welcome Learning Opportunities and Real Weaving Input I may take a while to do anything about it.)
Anyway. I spent today traveling to Cork, packing (a major endeavor considering I needed to re-integrate all the gear I shed at various points through the journey AND all the things I picked up in Galway), and taking a last visit to the Fish Wife, the same fish and chips place I went to my first weekend in Ireland. I walked through the streets comfortably, no longer feeling lost here. My phone works – I know which way to look for cars – I recognize the landmarks. The accents of the people around me sound normal. As I devoured hake and curry-cheese-chips and Guinness, I felt as though I had completed a circle.
Afterwards I went inside the Shelbourne – location of the previous epic whiskey tasting – and tried a couple more.
This one was the “whiskey of the week”, a brilliant concept if I have ever heard one. It lingered, as though I had placed a particularly delicious coal on my tongue
This one is part of a very limited run, special for the centennary of the Easter Rising. (only 1916 bottles made… see what they did there?) It was unlike any other whiskey I have tasted, robust and somewhat spicy – but like vanilla spicy instead of pepper spicy. (okay, a bit of both.) A great recommendation from the Shelbourne’s resident Whiskey Guru.
I sipped, and read a book, and mused a little. Finally yielding to wisdom (traveling hungover = awful plan) I made my way back as the sinking sun streamed through the clouds over the River Lee.
What a journey it has been.
I am so looking forward to seeing people. Friends, family… I have really missed a lot of folks.
And the end of this journey means figuring out what is next. Not right away, mind you… I’ll be taking a bit of time to rest and recover (because whatever positive adjectives you could use to describe this trip, “relaxing” is not really one of them), and to go on awesome Annual Camping Trip and reconnect with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I am so grateful to have had the chance to come to know the lands here in Ireland, while acknowledging how little I yet know them. And I am so eager to be back in places where the terrain is engraved on my heart, lines deepened by years of familiarity. I long for my home forests, and for trees that grow wild. I dream of canyon walls lush with ferns, of familiar waterfalls and islands I first clambered across as a child.
And I long for the parks and lakes and bridges of Seattle. I want to walk around Green Lake and check the turtle log and eat Paseo’s afterwards. I want to stroll through Ravenna Ravine and listen to the trees bending their heads down and the stream whispering. I want to climb the stairs in Weowna Park and circle Larson Lake while the ducks swim past. I want to go to Chism Beach and stare out across Lake Washington at sunset. I want to embrace my friends and family until my arms grow weak and I run out of breath. (yes, those last two sentences are actually in Bellevue. Shut up, Seattleites.)
Those of you who have been following along – I am so grateful. Knowing I’m not totally typing into the void has been a trace unnerving at times, but it has also been energizing and motivating. Also, writing about every day of this trip has been a fascinating exercise on many levels, including proving to me that I must like writing at least somewhat if I can do this much of it and not be like “and now I will NEVER WRITE AGAIN.”
I may write more, in fact, as I go through my “battening” process and start to integrate everything that has happened on this voyage. If nothing else I want to go back and tidy up things a bit, tag posts and maybe add some more info to make things easier for future people trying to research this journey as I was doing several months back.
But that will happen from the place I call home, and probably after a lot of sleep and stalking the aforementioned list of people I need desperately to hug. As the airlines sometimes say, expect delays.
And so for now, dear readers, I bid you a warm farewell – many of you I will see soon, others I hope to see again someday, and for you all, I pray, may the wind be ever at your back.
P.S. Maurice the Sloth reminds: take it slow and enjoy your journeys, wherever you go.