I had lived alone for a year in the house we built together after my husband left to find the grass beneath the snow. In the end, I gave up my stake in our home because I knew it was all he wanted. It hurt beyond words that it was all he cared for…a pile of sticks albeit a pile of beautifully crafted sticks. He loved this piece of wood more than me…in the end. It became the love of his life or, perhaps, it always had been. So, I left and wandered aimlessly from relative’s homes, apartments, condos and hotels.
In the year after I left, I decided to go on a trip I had always dreamed of…..I leafed through a manila folder filled with magazine pages I had ripped out over the years. The last page in the folder featured an article about a beautiful castle hotel in Ireland. I knew right away it was where I was meant to go. I made my own reservations for a regular room and bought a ticket through a travel agency. Started a new job and had to change the time which was ironic. The week I chose in the end was the same as my wedding anniversary would have been. A way to make things right or something good out of something that had been life altering and heartbreaking to me.
Every part of the trip was magic. I drove to the bus terminal and arrived at the airport four hours early. Strangely enough, the white haired gentleman at the counter at the same time I stood there ended up sitting near me. We were lucky enough to have a seat between us to stack jackets and things. Somewhere along the way I fell asleep over the Atlantic. When I woke, he said I had slept for a long time. I kept thinking back to the hours I spent waiting near the airport gate watching the people pass by. At one point, there was very tall, elegant girl who had to be a model trailing behind her what looked to be a Louis Vuitton suitcase, headed for the door to the VIP lounge. And, there I sat on a plastic seat with my carry-on case filled to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink just waiting to get on the plane and away from my old life if even for a week.
As we flew over Ireland in the early morning darkness, I could see tiny fairy-like lights brilliantly shining from all of the cottages and homes below. Wisps of fog floated in the air. Magic. Over the loudspeaker, the pilot announced we were being re-routed to Dublin as Shannon was fogged over. Oh My God. What was supposed to be a 7:00 AM landing turned into a 10:30 AM sit-and-wait on the tarmac with craziness galore inside the plane. Finally, they allowed us to disembark and attempt to find our luggage. In the midst of all this, the kind white-haired man told me that my driving service would not be waiting and I would need to contact the castle to avoid the long haul bus shuttle back to Shannon. I cannot say how grateful I am even now at his advice. But, then, he was a native who lived in Boston and knew his way around and probably knew I was a naive girl who’d hardly ever been out of New England her entire life.
After letting the main service desk at the airport know of my plight, I dragged my heavily packed suitcase into the bathroom. Much to my delight, the stalls were large enough to accommodate suitcases on end. It was unbelievable. Nothing like that in the good old USA or not to my knowledge. As I sat eating a grinder, my name was called. I threw it into the trash and ran for the escalator. Meeting me there was a nice Irish man who took my suitcase and out to his van we went. He entertained me with stories. The most amusing was about a famous rock band he had driven around Dublin the previous month who he said looked as though they had “big heads mounted on little sticks”. He was kindly referring to their size and it was funny as on stage they look larger than life.
On the way across the entire country, he stopped and bought ice cream and I fell asleep. He woke me as we arrived near the castle gates. OH MY GOD again. I could not believe my eyes. A real castle. I was disoriented from being up so long. My trip had begun early the previous morning and now it was late afternoon the following day. Even with the time difference, I was a bit out of sorts. I was so happy to be there, I could have kissed the ground, much less the Blarney Stone.
I was ushered into the lobby and properly registered. My suitcase had disappeared. I was taken to my room and there I discovered that the tie strap was still in place. No locks were allowed after 9.11 and no TSA locks existed then. I quickly returned to the beautiful wooden elevator and back to the lobby desk where I asked for a pair of scissors. Never did I think I could have simply called down and had them brought to me. I was in love. Just as I had fallen in love with my beloved Sunapee, I was in love with Ireland. A bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates sat on the table next to a writing desk equipped with beautiful stationery and pens with the embossed castle address at the top. That night as I sat in the dining room half asleep, I made a note in my mind that I would put it to good use.
The next morning I sat at the desk and wrote a letter to my ex. It was written from my heart with no ill intent. I wanted so much to share such a beautiful moment with him. Little did I know that he was involved with another and had her living with him in “our” house. The joke was on me I guess. But, back to the letter. I cannot remember everything I said but I did say I wished he could see the beauty that was before me. I was not sad as I wrote it. It was the anniversary of our wedding date. It seems it was my way of celebrating it on my own. I still had not let go and as I write this I wonder if I shall ever be able to completely let it go from within my heart. Tears always come to me when I think of this.
I spent each night eating course after course and was so happy with myself that I gained five pounds in one week. I met wonderful Irish people who made me a part of their family who gathered at the castle to celebrate. I rode on the buggy that John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara were seen on when they were courting in the movie, “The Quiet Man”. It was surreal. I walked on the beautiful pathways and each morning I woke to see the beautiful loch before me. When I returned one morning to get my jacket, an Irish girl with red hair was singing in the room as she tidied it. It seemed to be all so unreal to me. To top it off, a woman played a harp in a place called the “Dungeon Bar” every night. Heaven on earth.
The evening before I left, I cried as I packed. The next morning my Irish friends had already departed and there was only me left with my thoughts. I vowed to return one day with someone to share the experience.
In the next month, it will be twelve years (What am I waiting for???) since that fateful trip and still I have not returned because of moves, jobs, etc. I am still alone. I have decided to go again before the end of the year and hope that this time I might meet a beautiful man who lives in a castle who will fall in love with me and I will finally have my “happily ever after”. One can wish, can’t one? We will see. It’s not too late…..yet. But, then there is Daisy in “The Great Gatsby” who said…..”All of the bright precious things fade so fast and they never come back….” I will find a way to prove her wrong, I hope…..with the help of the forest fairies and leprechauns!