missive the fourth and a half, 3/1/3, vienna, virginia

i’ve made it halfway home. i’m at my brothers’ house in the dc area, and it’s snowing, which means flight delays and all that, so i’m not sure when i’m going to get the rest of the way home, but that’ll happen eventually, and i never worry. even about lost luggage (both checked bags this time).

my last few days in dublin were spent meeting friends, having dinner, going to the pub, getting a few last minute things, mailing myself some of the stuff i didn’t want to carry home. i finished the painting i wanted to leave brendan (of the outside of his several century old building, which is about to get torn down and rebuilt in a modern style), and managed to put him into it, which pleased me enormously.

i got allison a t-shirt (of a dragon, with ‘made in hell’ on the label, which i think she.ll enjoy).

i bought a good book for the airplane and end up reading most of it sitting in various pubs enjoying the elixir of life (guinness brewed and served in ireland). and i got fish and chips and ate them while walking across town to meet someone.

the thing about fish and chips is that you’re supposed to eat them after a night in the pub. if you’re not half drunk, you don’t enjoy them as much, because they.re not that good. so, not being at all inebriated, it being only early, i chose to forgo the chips, and just get a nice piece of smoked cod, from which i stripped the grease sodden batter, and enjoyed hot and steaming enough to raise blisters in my mouth. yum yum. it’s expensive, tho, so i actually had to forgo the chips because i couldn’t afford them. the fish itself was $4.50, and with chips it would have been $6.50, which is too much for a dinner wolfed down while strolling thru the rainy streets of dublin.

yes, the day i left, it started to rain. just like the day i left ireland the last time, and the day i left spain. strange about that. and when i got to new york, the forecast was for snow, but this time in washington, which was on my direct route home.

there was once this guy, and he noticed that it rained all the time no matter where he went. but this was only strange to himself, for the fellow didn.t know he was a rain god, and always took the weather with him.

i woke up early on thursday. after coming home from my last trip to the pub with friends, i’d spent the hour packing my bags, making sure my irish honey and my spanish romesco sauce were carefully wrapped in socks and tucked inside of my sneakers, that my tins of spanish shellfish were where the security guards could easily check them, that the film was tucked into my clothing bag so it wouldn’t get nuked to death while the security guys tried to figure out what those lead tubes were in my paint bag, and that my lead tubed oil paints were right on top and wrapped in a plastic bag tied with an easy to undo bow so they could have a good look and not go nuts on me.

i got up at 7. it was only starting to get light outside. brendan had never been there once overnight, so i’d sort of said goodbye the day before, when he waltzed in and back out again, as usual. brendan doesn’t like goodbyes, and it was as if he left me no room to say them on purpose. so, fine. i left him his present without telling him, either. i left his keys pushed thru the mail slot and went downstairs with my bags, which i wanted to take to the curb in 2 trips, because they.re darned heavy. so i did, dropping the first bag on the bottom step of the stoop and turning back toward the door just in time to hear it swing shut and latch. i threw myself at the door, but those doors are hundreds of years old and have withstood stronger shoulders than mine in more desperate situations, so i howled a big ‘no’, and then spotted these two guys dressed in official looking blue coats in the doorway of the house next door, chatting about the weather, of course. and so one came over and opened it up for me. he said ‘don’t panic,’ and i finished it – ‘there.s always an angel around the corner.’ and he said ‘you’re very lucky,’ and i proudly said ‘yes i am,’ realizing that he’s exactly right. and then i reached out and touched him and said ‘here’s a little bit of luck for yourself.’ the irish are always full of little touches of genuine kindness and symbolic wisdom.

i am very lucky. there is always an angel around the corner. there’s never a reason to panic. and this little gesture was a real reminder to me that this is the way i live. and that made my day. i stood at the bus stop waiting for the bus with a smile on my face.

at 7 the streets of dublin are just coming to life. roadworks are everywhere, as they constantly try to compromise between ancient structures on used-to-be adequately wide streets, and larger and more numerous and insistent vehicles trying to force their way thru them. busses rumble down the road, careening wildly every time they hit a bump in the road or make a turn.

it’s quite interesting to sit on the top of the double deckers. this morning the windows were all fogged up because of the rain, and everyone had made a circle so they could see out. so after dumping my bags into a cubby, i made my way up the circular staircase and found a seat on top, and had my last look. sort of a kaleidoscope type of look thru the clear spots in the windows, with acrobatics performed by passengers hauling their way up the stairs or hurtling themselves down to entertain people.

i got to the airport just in time. just in time to go to the airport lounge and have a last pint of guinness. okay, it was 9:30 in the morning, and i wasn’t really thirsty for alcohol, but it was also my very last chance this trip to have god’s own elixir, so i took advantage of it. with my very last euros in a whole fistful of little change. and it was glorious. in the corner, slogging down the drinks, was a band of women in their 20s, all of them blonde, all of them wearing these ridiculous sparkly green tiaras on their heads, all of them probably still partying from the night before. they were on my flight, and a source of song and amusement for some hours.

the flight was smooth and uneventful. no crying babies. unfortunately it was also completely full, so i sat in the exact center of the plane, and had no chance to look out a window. so i finished the other half of my book, and got some sleep. i was next to a young family, at least the mother and youngest daughter. the kid was 9, and very bright and observant. and she’d bounce up and down and talk about this and that, and every now and then give her mom a big hug and say ‘i love you mommy’. just like allison used to do when she was that age. and it made my heart so warm and full to see that. because now that she’s 14 she’s grown out of this kind of behavior for a few years, and i had almost forgotten how it used to be. but the kid and her mother brought it all back, and i was very happy to have a full hit of memory of allison climbing onto my lap and throwing her arms around me and letting me breathe in her delicious warmth and her big loving heart.

really, i go on about how i miss a hot bath and central heating, but what i really miss is my kid. and even tho i have no home to go to, i found that the homesickness was the hardest part. and even tho allison doesn.t live with me at the moment, home is wherever she is. when i got to new york, i found an electrical outlet and plugged in my phone. the first thing i did was to upgrade to 600 minutes on it. the next things was to call my mom, and call my brother (whose kind donation of flight vouchers is the source of my round trip between atlanta and new york, and call my ex and call my kid and call my friends dave and elizabeth downstairs from where i used to live.

i.m between homes right now. but it.s in a good way. i.ve been staying with friends since i gave away all my stuff and moved out of my apartment in january. i.m going to be staying in florida with a friend during march, and then i.ve got shows to do and classes to teach in april and may in atlanta, and then i.m doing residencies thru august, and then i.ve got some fall shows in atlanta and then i don.t know what; a miracle will happen.

new york was a controlled dance between 2 gates in order to not make it on several planes bound for washington, where it was snowing. i had my first domestic pint of guinness in the bar after having a meal of plastic lasagna with 2 hours until the next chance to not get on a flight. the beer was out of a bottle with a widget thingie, which takes up .8 oz of space, which is not fair and should be protested in the strongest terms to the conglomerate that now owns guinness. the nice gate agent and i got to know each other, and traded stories of snowbound travelers – her indian relatives from england who came over for her daughter.s wedding during the big snow of a couple of weeks ago. they just hunkered down and partied and nobody went anywhere, which is entirely sensible. when it.s cold outside, nothing beats company and endless cups of tea. finally i got on, the very last passenger, whooping with delight. i was just after making the decision to get my bags out of standby luggage purgatory and make a run for the train to dc. and the snow was getting so bad that peoples. connections out of dulles were getting cancelled, so the kind gate agent made other arrangements with other airlines or decided to put people up in town, and offloaded passengers right and left, and with a wink from her i decided to chance it.

miracles happen all the time. and it was an itty bitty plane, a propeller plane, where the flight attendant had to rearrange passengers for the correct weight balance (so cute, we.re so subject to physics and we so forget whenever we get into something large, like an suv or a big old jet air liner).

it was fun. i love flying. and then when i got to dulles, the plane landing in snow falling fast enough to coat the main runway completely white between plowings, it was 10 something and i.d already called ahead that i.d be staying the night on one of three sets of relations. couches.

so my second youngest brother dave picked me up. none of my family is strictly normal, which is good, because whatever you think of as your major flaw when you are younger turns out to be your greatest source of strength when you get older. davey turns out to be a whiz at electronics, which has developed out of a natural tendency toward the philosophical, and my youngest brother mikey is quite the mba type, and together they run a nice, hardworking, busy little startup putting in voice/data capability for all these companies. and whether it.s an up market or a down market, businesses need to communicate, so these guys are making a living not working for the man – a positive anecdote for my best selling demotivational handbook, .lazy is good; quit your day job..

i spent a comfortable night and started to settle into the culture shock phase of being in a different country than i.m currently used to (tho it.s only been 6 weeks. but travel is exhausting, providing you with a whole new state of consciousness thru which to experience your world.).

this morning i went tramping around in the snow with my camera, and saw my oldest younger brother buddy and jaci his wife who are getting ready to make complete changes in their life, which is what i.m finding all over the place. i.m not the only one who has decided or has been forced or has found themselves making drastic changes in their lives, concluding situations and relationships and avenues of exploration and paths taken out of habit.

and i find that very encouraging. if people all around me are making 90 degree turns in their paths, then it.s certain that our entire worldview, our political situation, our economics, the way we think about how things ought to be done, the way we value other people, the way we treat ourselves – all these things can change. it.s never too late to reinvent yourself. and miracles happen all the time.

so i.m pretty glad to be home. i don.t strictly speaking have a home to go to, but a miracle will happen when it.s time to settle down again. i went to europe partly to decide if i wanted to go back and live there, and decided that i didn.t really. it.s changed; i.ve changed; i don.t need the things i used to need, and have other things to do with my efforts.

so i.m going to hang around here, close to my kid, and do what i need to do to both paint and make a living, and mess with other people the way i do, as long as it.s healthy and good for all concerned.

right now i.m in atlanta, in dave and elizabeth.s living room typing this. my cat (allison.s cat) osiris is chasing their cat cleo, and i think they want to keep him, so fair enough. he.s a very affectionate cat, and loves being in a family with an instant sibling, so here he.ll stay and be very happy. i.m sleeping on my very own futon couch, which is now theirs, and tomorrow they.ve got the saturday midtown stuff market to do (elizabeth is an artist) and i.ve got two shows to install, and mail to deal with, and my taxes to start on (oy)).

so i.ll go, and write again soon.

love jeanne


  1. […] missive the fourth and a half – 3/1/3, vienna, virginia. […]


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