Rattle my bones all over the stones

Mural in Temple Bar neighbourhood, Dublin

Mural in Temple Bar neighbourhood, Dublin

Saturday, all of us on damp streets swaddled against the wind coming off Dublin Bay, wandering northeast from our flat past large churches, intersections where the asphalt’s painted LOOK RIGHT, LOOK LEFT, and the people have complexions that remind me of our friend Rob West, the reason Dawn and I got together 16 years ago.

Maybe it was James Joyce or a train to Portland, or my ex-girlfriend taking a job at IKEA, but if you take the time to trace back events leading up to meeting someone, it forces the question of fate or coincidence, and if you can even separate the two.

Rob was doing sound design with Dawn’s theatre company GREX and called to ask if I’d join the Live Foley Orchestra, a couple guys backstage shaking pieces of scrap metal to simulate the sound of thunder to Shakespeare.

I was so down on my luck and out of it, having just climbed Mount Rainier and now with winter coming on and nothing to do, living alone in a bachelor pad in Wallingford, I agreed — and met Dawn, the director, and a couple months later Rob suggested the two of us “date” and it was all the talk of the cast, and soon Dawn had to ask her ex-boyfriend Reggie, who was playing Laertes, to pack his bags and move out, as he’d been living off her couch since they split up in that way actors sometimes do — and come January or February Dawn was moving in with me, we got through Y2K, and watched them blow up the Kingdome.

Rob was in a seat behind us on the train to Portland and overheard me and my friend Don talking and inserted himself, we exchanged numbers, and years later Don and Rob worked in a variety of tech start-ups, and Rob and I started some kind of book club for nerds that was really just me and Rob and never got off the ground, but it was nice to meet someone who could go all glowy-eyed talking about Joyce, who inspired me to read David Foster Wallace, and I could pretend I was an intellectual in his company, which was like trying on a hat or a mask and looking in the mirror and posing.

Dawn and I ended our first date at Joey’s apartment, who was turning 35, studying stage combat and sword fighting, brother to Victor who played drums with the Violent Femmes, but wasn’t very interested in making a big deal out of it, he just smirked, changed subjects.

We pass plaques honouring the great Irish writers and I imagine them walking the same streets, or climbing the stairs in these old pubs, their cheery music and dark tones, warm light: The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Dublin, a series of small, interconnected rooms like chambers of a heart — and if the heart could hold memories it would overflow here, and probably best it can’t, its strength comes from its ability to trust and feel, and memory can sometimes get in the way of that.

When I’m done climbing Mount Rainier it seems there’s nothing left in my life that year, my job is silly, I’m a secretary approaching 30, still single, back from five aimless months in France, carrying around two cats, one with a chronic bladder infection that pees blood on my bed, not good for dating.

I have my bungalow in Wallingford decked out with a rust-coloured shag rug in front of a fireplace with a remote that’s a blocky plastic thing and looks like something from the 70s you’d use to open a garage door, and when you hit the button it makes a wild “woosh” and the fire comes on, and lights the shag rug, and I often don’t sit there because the room feels too big alone.

There’s a riot downtown for the WTO and Seattle’s mayor has the police force out in riot gear, using tear gas, and I have to leave work early just to be a part of it, to walk into the fray because it feels like history, and I don’t want to miss out. I spot one of the singers from a band there, named after a number you call on the freeway if you see someone in the HOV lanes who’s driving solo, 764-HERO.

And here in Dublin on our first night in a new flat, the kids in a small room next to ours and the curtains drawn, I wake in the morning in the dark and lie there for a while trying to think what day it is and where we are, and can’t remember: it’s a crowded intersection with all of us looking both ways, waiting to cross.

Post title inspired by a nursery rhyme that can also be found in James Joyce’s Ulysses, in a song by The Smiths, in a Neil Gaiman story, with more about it here.

 

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
This entry was posted in travel, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Rattle my bones all over the stones

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Some very fine bone rattling here, Bill. I can here them – tappity tap- going down Dublin’s windtossed streets. And since you mention Neil Gaiman, also puts me in mind of his Dancing the Macabray – all good spirits together: http://www.goodfuneralguide.co.uk/2012/06/dancing-macabray/

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks Tish — you just gave me a great gift idea for my daughter Lily, who has a dark sensibility…and I think I could steal it from her when she’s done! We had a good day out in an open-roofed double decker bus, looking like tourists…go figure. I read about Gaiman recently, the fact one of his first books was a biography on the band Duran Duran in 1984, and his long list of works…quite inspirational. Cheers! – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn Love says:

      You’ve got to love Gaiman. If I could choose what kind of writer to be, I’d be a mix of Gaiman, Susan Cooper (Brit kids fantasy writer) and Patrick Ness (YA writer). Oh, to be Neil Gaiman …. With my hair, though 🙂

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Now I am really intrigued, thanks for that Lynn. Added to my book list for 16, American Gods.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Love him – The Graveyard Book is brilliant too. Although written for children, it’s pretty spooky and the villain is quite terrifying. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is wonderful too.

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  2. Dina Honour says:

    Sometimes your posts remind me of dreams, the way you slip from landscape to landscape and yet it all makes sense.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. rossmurray1 says:

    I’d never seen the Kingdome blow down before. It’s retroactively ominous now, isn’t it, that collapse and moving wall of dust.
    Hey, I was inspired last night and am excited about a new project that is borderline cute but I think doable. Will fill you in later. It feels good to be excited. Here’s to overflowing hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I’m excited for you and “borderline cute.” Is there a way we can wrap in transgender and legalized pot, which are trending? More so than the Kingdome, at least.

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  4. I remember being wowed at how the idea of relationships seeming to be fated got shot down by Milan Kundera in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. He makes a good case, but it still feels like an incredible set of coincidences is needed to get a couple of humans together…

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  5. ksbeth says:

    i think human matchups are like a roulette wheel spinning. where it stops, nobody knows. somehow it works.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      It’s just good to be on the table, if you use the Roulette analogy. I think for a while I didn’t know where to drop that silver ball, so to speak.

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  6. What a great story. I especially like the idea of Laertes sleeping on a sofa. It’s not bad enough his father was murdered and his sister went mad. Now he has to sleep on a sofa and then get the boot! Cruel fate. And I had some actor friends in my past life as a single man. I know how those break-ups go. Full of strum und drang.

    I would very much like to have a drink in the oldest pub in Dublin. Then, I could finally say I’ve been somewhere.

    Another great post, you son of a gun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I love your comments Mark, thank you. Kind of made my day, this hat trick today of spirited thoughts. Returned to our flat with the WiFi connection, my phone chimed, and there you were, kind of real. More on the real than the kind. Laertes made good mix tapes for Dawn too, heavy on the Tom Waits. I guess that makes sense, with all he’d been through. And it was around this time I first heard the term sofa surfing, which is good. Cheers to you buddy.

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  7. Lynn Love says:

    Another grand post on your epic journey, Bill. Love how the present triggers such strong memories for you. We’re learning about your past in dribs and drabs, spits and spots. And fancy Laertes having to be evicted – you’d think the guy would’ve taken the hint when the relationship finished, wouldn’t you?

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thank you Lynn. Dawn and I talked after I posted this, as she thought there were some inaccuracies but couldn’t pinpoint who played whom now, which is really sad for all of us. It’s nice, I really liked her ex, who was also on the cast of that show we did at the Oddfellows Hall in Seattle, where they also teach ball room dancing, that kind of thing. Glad you’re seeing how I’m working with past and present. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Frustrating when details like that slip away, isn’t it? My other half and I struggle to remember people from our early past sometimes. ‘Now, what was that guys name? You know the one with the terrible, lopsided eagle tatooon his calf who went out with Vicky, the scary ginger punk after she’d dumped that nice lad Johnny – the one with the long dark hair who adored Faith No More and would jump around The Queen’s Head to Epic like he was possessed?’ ‘Adrian? Adam?’ ‘Can you have a punk called Adrian?’ ‘He wore really heavy, thick rimmed glasses too.’ ‘Yeah …’

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Wasn’t Adrian the name of the Ginger punk on the Young Ones? Saw a black Irish girl (like, of Spanish descent) with a Faith No More T-shirt on today in a storefront setting up some kind of art installation. Do you know what the difference is between Bono and God? God doesn’t think he’s Bono. Sorry, heard that on a double decker bus today and thought it quite good. God also doesn’t work with Brian Eno, which would likely take God-like patience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Haha! Love the Bono joke – poor man does get a little up himself, doesn’t he? You can almost feel the other guys in the band cringeing when he goes off on one. I have distinct memories of Brian Eno’s hair when he was in Roxy Music – what on earth was that about? Mind you, Roxy Music’s fashion sense…
        Vivian was the name of the ginger punk in the Young Ones – the now sadly deceased pixie of mayhem, Rik Mayall.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Ah: Vivian, thank you. I remember Neil (I think), the hippy — but that’s about it. It’s been a while. Brian Eno’s hair, well I’m glad he lost it. He wasn’t very responsible with it then. He’s got to be in my top 3 favourite artists though, for all he’s done since then, what he’s done and how — really brilliant in my book. He spent a lot of time with U2, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Devo, and was credited with creating ambient music after an accident lying in a hospital listening to beeping sounds and thinking he could make music out of it, more or less (paraphrased, this article requires citations).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Ha! Yep, his hair needed a health warning 🙂 He has worked with some interesting people, there’s no denying. The ambient music story’s interesting – is that really true? Great if it is – inspiration strikes in the strangest places …
        And yes, it was Neil. Neil, Vivian, Rik and Mike The Cool Person. Happy days

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  8. Don Olson says:

    Hey Bill, it’s interesting how I keep travelling the telegraph wire between you and Rob. So glad to have been on the line when you two connected.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s a nice way of putting it Don, it’s good to hear from you. Perhaps it’s because it was your idea to go to Portland that last weekend in May, and buy Modest Mouse EPs. Each time I go back there I try to remember where that Mexican restaurant was, and think I have it placed, but it doesn’t exactly fit. I have however nicked that story of yours of the guy who kept a snake in his closet, fed it rabbits, and how it produced “chalk” for the neighbourhood kids. That’s a winner. There are many more stories of yours I wish I’d written down…hope you’re well and best to you and your loved ones. – Bill

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  9. What a great post. Being away from a place seems to make it easier to write about. I wonder if that is because the details remembered are now ours and not connected to any reality other than what sits in our heads? Really interesting connections between your current walks and your past life.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks so much Jon, grateful you’re out here in the woods again with us roaming from campfire to campfire, and stopping here at mine for a bit, makes me happy — Bill

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  10. kirizar says:

    This is one of my favorite posts you’ve written and not just because of the line which so resonated with me: “I could pretend I was an intellectual in his company, which was like trying on a hat or a mask and looking in the mirror and posing.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s awesome Kiri — I could hardly remember this one. Funny to see the phrase out of context like that now and try to imagine what I even wrote! I let them go and don’t look back…thanks for scrounging around my past there and happy you enjoyed it, and thanks for saying so. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

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