Every once in a while, you find yourself a part of a group of humans who just fall together so naturally that you wonder why you’ve been working so hard your whole life. Not one of us look the same or have the same interests or approach life from a similar perspective and yet, you buzz with the energy and gratitude and thrill of what community feels like.
Colours of Temple Bar on a Friday night:
A fifty-nine year old and his eighty-one year old dad on a hostel pub crawl
A beer pong match played on a long, graffitied table in the back alley of a cramped, lively pub - colour and noise and life so close at hand
Two lone voices singing a national anthem which nobody else knows or even recognizes
Warm, rich and full laughter that keels you over and releases your muscles and you just let everything go because nothing seems so serious
Good, hearty, heavy conversation that neither party shies away from and you dig into like meat on a huge plate with space to tear through the muscly bits and the stringy tendons
The thrill of a dare which you enjoy because you can feel victory so imminently
Red pubs and songs you know and songs you pretend to know and all of it so loud that your voice becomes just a bit of the beautiful mess of it all
Relevant Side Effects (alternatively known as the day of grog):
In a tiny coffee shop in South Dublin listening to the Talking Heads, I’m reminded of the gentleness which life allows us from time to time. Some days, I wake up feeling so big and bold and unapologetically ready. Others, I wake up feeling just so small. Since leaving home three months ago, I’ve experienced more of that unapologetic boldness than I had in three years of waking up to a world in which I enjoyed a consistent level of comfort and stability; I’ve also experienced the smallness, perhaps not more often but more wholly. It's an icy reality check to wake up knowing that all you know is that you won’t know. That you won’t understand. That you might not fit. That you might - in fact - be exactly the wrong fit. Some days, it thrills you and it fuels you and it drives you forward. Others, you fill your lungs with as much air as you can suck out of the world and pretend that you’re invincible rather than just full of hot air. Nobody notices. There are a few days though where the smallness eats you alive. It bottoms out any fuel that you may have stored away on reserve and it shrivels your lungs until they're prunes, prunes which won't allow you to take in even another half sip - they’re already stuffed but you’re gasping for air. You’re used up and dried out and getting tinier.
Sipping a takeaway cup of lukewarm peppermint tea, I’m reminded of the gentleness which life allows us on those days. On the small days, the best you can do sometimes is swing your legs over the side of the bed and get up. Get up and go out and move about in the world like you’re navigating somewhere or accomplishing something or being someone. You move about until you find somewhere to sit and maybe you find yourself in a tiny coffee shop in South Dublin listening to the Talking Heads which happens to be your favourite band because it reminds you of your dad. Maybe you dig around in your bag for cash but the guys behind the counter have made an extra americano so they tell you not worry about it and it doesn’t matter to them but it matters to you, you sappy fool. Maybe you make a passing joke and a stranger’s laughter is loud and refreshingly genuine. Maybe the table you’ve coveted in the attic space upstairs opens up like you hope the heavens will one day and you take the opportunity to swoop in, silent and stealthy. Maybe all that happens is rain and you hear the pitter patter of fat droplets on the brick storefront. You watch the colours of the neon signs across the way streaking down the shop's thick window panes like they’ve been loaded onto an thick, plump paintbrush. Maybe none of those things happen but you’re surrounded by the warmth of bodies and conversations and caffeine.
A browning apple core my wayward companion, I’m reminded of the gentleness which life allows us - somehow - when we most need it.
Authors Note: Thanks for indulging me in feeling a little blue and hardly mentioning Dublin at all, folks.