“Bags were due at 2:00, according to their first phone call, but fine,” I whispered before handing Steve one of the cookies I had snatched from our hotel room coffee station and sitting back in my cushiony seat. Heart lighter with even the revised news, I closed my eyes in relief, almost humming, Soon and very soon. We are going. To see. My clothes. Soon and very soon. . .
The Dublin airport tram had been delayed, again, and then cancelled so the last of us waiting to join our tours were sent in taxis—only they were out of taxis. Steve and I climbed, empty-handed, into one of those makeshift modes of transport where you feel blokes have been drafted off the street, minutemen trying to act official as they ferried you to your destination in their paneled station wagon with headless, naked Barbies and half-eaten candy bars at your feet. (That candy was looking tasty as dinner wasn't until 7:30pm.)
After I’d showered (halleluia), Steve had handed me a bag. “What’s this?” I asked, happy again and wrapped in a luxuriously thick towel, smelling of the ginger citrus soap and shampoo I’d found in the bathroom. (The hotel, as mentioned many blogs ago, was gorgeous in every detail.)
“A distress kit. From Traveler’s Assistance. It’s got some cool stuff.”
“You didn’t tell me they’d given you anything—but grief,” I’d giggled, pouring the contents on the tautly made bed: disposable razor, mini-toothbrush, a dollop of toothpaste, and a thin white tee with Sky Team stamped over the heart.
Then, the next few minutes went like Ingmar Bergman's Scenes From a Marriage. Steve told me we had to be dressed and on the bus to begin touring within the hour. My eye had a twitch, my neck and back hurt, and I felt like I had been falling--without actually landing--for so long I would have liked to hear the thud. I’d said, Have you met me? No way. Not dressed like this. So he had stormed out but, Presto Change-o, returned at cheetah speed with an outfit for each of us bought at a hotel shop. It was so sweet a gesture that I obediently moved my spent body into the new duds, but, God Bless Him, the pants didn’t fit (i.e. European sizing on an Amazonian American woman). He freaked out: We came to Ireland to see things and we were going to see them, damn it. So I crawled right back into my filthy black tights with the boots that had become a prison. And, here we were. . .
Sightseeing had officially started but since I looked a holy terror with swollen eyes and clean hair that had gone bushy (without my hair products or straightener), the only stipulation I had, stepping on to that bus and making quite the first impression upon the older and considerably more conservative crowd, was that Steve could not take photos of me this tired and wild. --Did I mention the Frankenstein outfit? The new grey sweater was snug and cropped at the waist, leaving the black tights I knew were too sheer to pass for leggings and knee-length black boots. I was Fergie’s trashier sister—or Lindsay Lohan after a bender, and this is what it looked like when Irish eyes weren't smiling.
“Hi, Andersons!” our co-travelers rang out as we grumpily boarded. Our driver Liam, a microphone pinned to his lapel, announced that we had just arrived and had had “a rough go of it,” that our luggage was missing and that they should all make us very comfortable as it was our anniversary. The universal groan of compassion that went out for us filled my eyes with tears.