Salthill Serenade, Galway

Near Skellig Michael, ring of Kerry, Ireland

Near Skellig Michael, ring of Kerry, Ireland

Wet snow tangled in the hair of the grass outside of London, topping the cars like confetti. Going back to a Sunday a month ago in Galway, a neighborhood ten minutes outside of town called Salthill, that day we started coming apart as a family on the beach, in the wind and rain — and I walked out on a causeway to a place called Mutton Island that was off-limits to the public, where they process waste.

A couple casinos, fish and chips takeaways, off-licence shops, a Texaco self-service station that dings when a car pulls up. Beachfront apartments with cheap outdoor furniture covered in plastic, tied down with chord. It’s the cheapest booking we’ve made and we have low expectations. The building manager is in his 50s and has a Don’t Fuck with Me look about him, looks like that’s what he does for a living and nothing else: he’s used to breaking up parties and kicking out drunks, used to cleaning toilets himself to cut back on costs. We fix up in advance, no contract, all cash. He says the weather…is not good. He says it matter-of-fact, delivering news like a doctor when there’s no need to sugar coat things, leans over the railing toward the harbor. Says there’s sharks out there that come in for the dolphins, and they had to start putting them down because there were women diving there last summer and the dolphins came around to nudge them away because it’s the dolphins’ territory where they breed or something, and when they touched the women with their noses it made them bleed and could attract the sharks, so they had to put them down. Careful with the kids, not like you’d go out there in this weather anyway. And despite this, there are still figures on the sand rummaging for shells in the mist and fog, little Irish voices. A woman who’s running looks like she’s got red leg warmers but it’s her skin gone salmon-colored from the cold. There’s something out on the water it looks like you could walk to, but we can’t tell if it’s real or an illusion.

The apartment is stripped clean, a beach party place where we get the sense everything is numbered in its drawers with a checklist to turn things over fast. Two rolls of toilet paper “to get you started,” one coffee filter, some salt, no pepper.

Mid-December, Christmas coming on, Galway. Salthill. Home schooling. Fears about Christmas, what it will be like. Charlotte, holding out hope Santa is real, probing how exactly it will work with him knowing our whereabouts. Lily, on a sidewalk in Amsterdam lets it slip about a classmate, some scrap I’m half-hearing that ends with “(that dumb ass) still believes in Santa Claus.”

We decide we just have to get out of the apartment, do anything, do nothing, but at least get out. On the beach in the wind and rain, Charlotte’s stork bite coming out, stubborn and pissed off, hating us both in different but very specific, well thought out ways.

Lily asks why I’m crying and I say it’s the wind; Dawn hides her face from the kids. But 20 minutes later we’re in the car with the heat going pulling into a parking garage in town, getting seated at a restaurant and hearing about the specials.

And we trudge through the week looking forward to Christmas and thank god mom can come up from Germany so we can have some semblance of home and tradition, and another force to break up our own — and when I drive out to get mom at the airport in Cork and we’re returning late at night, the cars ahead of us are slowing down on the road for some reason and my instinct is to get pissed off and go around them but I realize there’s a figure in the dark, it’s a horse in the middle of the road, and cars are going fast in either direction and mom wants to get out of the car to help the horse and I say no, and keep going, and as we enter the next roundabout we feel it’s a pall that’s come down over us, the feeling of that horse lost in the dark, as if it could symbolize something or serve as an omen, could stand for any number of things that could go missing or lost, could kill you if you’re not careful.

We drive the ring of Kerry, and can see in the distance off the coast large outcroppings of rocky islands, one where they filmed the last scene from Star Wars, and Dawn helps me talk through my story rewrite, and we stop in a place for lunch we speculate the cast from the film may have visited, and drive by the bay of Dingle on our way home.

The girls are unimpressed with stories of how we were about their age when the first film came out. I have the phrase in my head, that things happen gradually over time and then all at once, and the image of an hour glass, how the grains of sand pass through the stem and seem to speed up at the end.

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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25 Responses to Salthill Serenade, Galway

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Waaah! An icy, sad wind just blew out of my screen. Hope London is more warmly embracing.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      Well you know, I make things sound worse or better than they really are because the truth is rarely that interesting, and doesn’t play as well as a bit of enhancing will. But thank you, London is very kind to us: tiring, as we knew it would be, but deeply satisfying. So terribly civilized, and I mean that in the nicest way. It feels such a good way to end this 90 day tour, really glad we were able to cross paths for a time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. walt walker says:

    This reads like an Ingmar Bergman film narrated by Morgan Freeman. I like it, though like Tish, I hope the icy, sad winds change in jolly old England.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      I will be validated if Morgan Freeman ever reads my script. He probably does life insurance commercials and well, just about anything — seems ubiquitous. Just wrote Ross about the Albert Hall yesterday and thought about that crazy video you posted, which was marvellous. I got so much joy out of that, the kind of thing I’d like to rap about with you around a coal fire or something. I seem to have gone down a Cocteau Twins rabbit hole now, which happens often and never disappoints. Seems to go with London for some reason. Hope you’re enjoying your football today.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. rossmurray1 says:

    The answer to the writing exercise: “Describe homesickness.”

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      No end to the navel-gazing. How does that same ball of lint seem to reappear so often and where does it come from? We have just two weeks remaining here in the UK, and we re-enter the Schengen by way of France, home in time (home meaning Germany) by Groundhog Day. I hope your eyes are OK. I hope The Beatles project too. Of course I thought about them quite a bit as we walked by the Albert Hall yesterday, and cut through Kensington Gardens, and I replayed those lyrics over and over again for Lily aloud until I embarrassed her visibly (‘now they know how many holes it takes…’) and it was worth it. I’ll go easy on your eyes now, sorry just got excited talking to you again.

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  4. Dina Honour says:

    You know what stood out to me about this? No pepper. Salt, but no pepper. That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? It would be one thing to be a solitary writer, caught on the windswept cliff trying to finish a book, inspired by the howl and the gale and the horse and the the rain and the mist. It’s another altogether when there are two kids and a myth and a lot of love to try to work in there.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s a beautifully poignant and insightful bit of something Dina, thank you for sharing. I wanted to go back a bit to when I stopped blogging in mid-December to grab some of those scenes, to remember them. We’ve had such moments of real starkness here that have their own beauty too, of course. Was very stark there, sitting out bundled up on the balcony looking west, grateful for any color in the sky we’d get by way of sunset. And I did have a magical morning walk out on a causeway that looked a bit unsafe with the tide, and kind of lost myself there…good fodder for future writing. “Turn to face the strange.”

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      • Dina Honour says:

        I haven’t recovered from Alan Rickman’s death yet. I was all hung-ho-ed up to watch Sense and Sensibility this weekend, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t face that Austen landscape and turn off the television set and know that was it, there’d be no more. Facing the strange indeed. It’s gorgeous stuff, Bill, all of it here. I hope your journeys have fortified you to face whatever strange lies ahead.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        I’m sorry for how his death has affected you, that’s something. He did have such a terribly real quality to him…I first saw him in Die Hard and thought he was the bees’ knees. I haven’t seen those Austen films, but will think of you when I do. It sucks when you know the end to a catalogue of a musician or artist, when you know there will be no more. I’m glad you enjoy the posts, thank you. Having you and other writers read what I write is so motivating, as I’m sure you know yourself. There’s nothing better than strange in my book. It’s what makes this life so interesting, for me.

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      • Lynn Love says:

        Is that a Therapy quote? Haven’t heard that in a looong time. Love your description of the everyday tethered to a through the looking glass feel. The strange and the boring combined. Great stuff. Hope you got some enjoyment from the season.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        Hi Lynn and thanks for the well wishes here. The “turn to face the strange” is Bowie, maybe Therapy too, dunno? Walt would know about that one. Yes, much enjoyment here and thank you. Going to tour the Potter studios today! Life is good…best to you and yours too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Of course – ‘Changes’. Have you seen the Black Star video? Very dark, very disturbing – especially with hindsight, I suppose. Ah, the Potter Studios. I’m envious! Hope you have a great day.

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  5. ksbeth says:

    ah, it seems you were ready to come back –

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      All the travel is a real eye-opener to what’s important, and the fact you don’t really need to go away to go somewhere, to figure things out inside. But it sure helps that perspective. It’s been great, but we are kind of counting the days…two more weeks in the UK, and then 90 more days in Germany!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. byebyebeer says:

    Countless details to love in this one (salmon colored legs, numbered items in rental, your mom wanting to help a horse lost in the dark…). Tugging at all the heartstrings painfully but more please. And what’s all this about santa claus?

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      It’s just life, but thanks Kristen — I’m happy you enjoyed looking through this with me. Had a talk with Charlotte, who’s 8, about Santa Claus and she put me on the spot, is he real, and I had the “real if you believe in him, in your heart” chat (which I believe myself) and at about that time, on cue, a couple buskers in Stratford-upon-Avon started playing the Monkees song “I’m A Believer,” and well, there you go. Truth is stranger than fiction and doesn’t operate the same way, doesn’t have the same sense to it, doesn’t resolve the way we expect stories too. There I go bastardizing a number of Mark Twain quotes. Thanks for reading my friend, and enjoy your week, hope you have a holiday today.

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  7. Deborah says:

    oh how I miss England xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I pray those people never see a Caribbean island in person. It’d ruin those beautiful, raw shores for them. @Dina Honour: I liked the salt/no pepper, too. Funny what sticks out. Nothing is something.

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    • pinklightsabre says:

      You must have the day off, I hope! The other night I tallied the number of places we’ve been in now for more than one night. I think it came to #18, this flat of ours in London now. They really blur together, and most of them I want to remember for their unique characteristics (the flats). That one in Galway was weird, suited the mood or reflected it, and it was quite moody, the mood. A good place to decide to take a break from drinking and blogging for a bit; both have satisfying, addictive, delusional qualities and can fool you into feeling you’re with someone when you’re maybe not.

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      • I am, indeed, off. Typing from my home instead of deck. Christ, this job-thing is tedious. You don’t realize just how much so until you don’t have to do it for a day or two. Celebrated the Monday holiday by getting my annual physical (all systems go) and then taking the family to the local diner. Then attend to my blog feeder. This is how I’d live if I didn’t need that bloody job.

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      • pinklightsabre says:

        The blog feeder is a gerbil gumming an inverted stainless steel water tube and a close up of its matted whiskers. “Ding!” You’ve got mail!

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      • You made your bed now lie in it. You want release? Write crappy posts. We’ll flee. Keep writing these entertaining missives and you’ll have to deal with “Ding!” Your choice.

        Liked by 1 person

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