Three years ago on July 9th, 2004 (it was a Friday) I said farewell to the love of my life to date, she went off to work in Manhattan and later that morning, I left for JFK and said goodbye to New York City, taking with me just what I could carry (or roll). I flew via Philadelphia to Paris first, where I spent a week at the home of my grown daughter. Then I boarded a Ryan Air jet with even less luggage due to their ridiculous baggage limits and flew the hour-and-a-half to Dublin, landing and busing into the city on the evening of July 16th.
I’d never been to Ireland, and Dublin’s gray, low-rise Georgian architecture was quite a shock after opulent Paris. For the first couple of days, I felt pretty lost. Jet-lagged, numb from the breakup, unable to get a real feel for a city that hides its supermarkets in basements and its bookstores and shops in nooks, crannies, and behind metal shutters on Sundays. Most everything is small here, especially to an American born and raised in the wide open spaces of California.
Plus, as a very light drinker even by American standards, Dublin’s drunkenness is something I’m still not inured to. Those first nights when I couldn’t sleep and I wandered the city centre, I was deeply disturbed by the stumbling, utterly oblivious young women and men walking into post boxes, slumped on sills, weaving unsteadily on their feet on the edge of traffic. Inevitably on Saturday and Sunday mornings in Dublin, the streets are obstacle courses of broken glass, empty bottles, and, yes, pools of vomit. I wasn’t sure I was going to stay those first few days.
What convinced me, though, to make this ancient city my home—then and now—are its people. Dubliners as a whole are extraordinary: witty, generous, highly intelligent, opinionated, bloody fair-minded, intensely musical—poetic even—and fiercely protective of the underdog. Once you start interacting with Dubliners, the fact you’re paying Manhattan prices to live in a city with shit public transport, unreliable telecommunications, rush hour main streets that resemble parking lots, and rain (lately) 7 days out of 7, becomes immaterial.
Yeah, I love this place, despite its faults.