open your eyes: dublin, day one

“There’s so much beauty here, but we never see it because we drive by beauty every day and we take it for granted.” So goes the exchange between my father and a cab driver at 4:30 in the morning. They’re reacting to my look of awe as we drive through the quiet city of Dublin. We pass by doors painted in the primary colors. Trees tower, their limbs are geometric and shape and the buds are pregnant with spring bloom. After a day delay, a plane with mechanical failure and a total combined sleep of seven hours in two days, my pop and I are finally in Dublin and I’ve taken nothing for granted. I see this beauty; I’ve taught myself to see it in the smallest of moments and grandest of gestures. But my pop isn’t quite there yet.

If you’re looking for a storybook opening to a holiday spent between father and daughter, keep turning the page because our first morning in Dublin was a decidedly rocky one, so much so that we fought at breakfast, walked in silence, and traded barbs in the rain on Grafton Street. Exhausted, we knew we had to stay awake all day, and perhaps the flight and lack of sleep made us all too vulnerable to act on our insecurities — my pop and his limping gait, and me and my distaste at traveling with a companion and having to plan, coordinate and appease. While I love my pop beyond measure he sometimes plays the martyr card and, in response, I play the patronizing, asshole parent. This morning we were at our most gruesome, and I had to take a step back, breathe and remind him that we are here, in Dublin, together. This is our time, I said. We can choose to ruin it or we can choose to make it an adventure. So after a morning spent on Grafton Street, we decided to retreat to our respective corners, white flags sheepishly waving.

In the afternoon we reunited. The storm had passed and the rains receded, and we were en route to his brother Jerome’s house. We drove to the outskirts of Dublin to a small home with a solarium and all the wooden furniture his retired carpenter brother had built. But can we pause for a moment? Can I tell you about the light? The beautiful, effulgent light that managed to cloak us in its warmth. His brother, now 70, held me close and whispered, My little brother’s driving you crazy, am I right? I laughed and said that I was driving him a little crazy too. His wife Norah entered, then the grandchildren, then the chubby King Charles Spaniel, and the rounds of coffee, biscuits, and cakes taken in the sun room. My father beamed in the presence of his beloved big brother and they traded stories of men they used to be and stared at a photo of their mother, who would have been a century old this month. We spent the day laughing, eating, telling stories, and I marveled over the steady stream of people who weaved in and out of their doors like spools of thread.

This is what it’s like to be in a family of seven brothers. This is what it’s like to see three generations of a clan in one postmark of a home. This is what it’s like to be in a home. I envied my pop this, this big, sweeping love while I came from broken things. Shards of glass that only reflected that which we lacked and coveted. I came from a home that valued money over character, a home that preyed and manipulated and betrayed. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve come from ether because I have nothing behind me and no plans to leave any children behind.

It occurred to me in that solarium that I’m the last of my kind. Jetlagged, this thought broke my heart, killed me in ways you can’t imagine.

Jerome + Norah drove us back to our hotel a couple of hours ago, and we spoke of rounding up a few more brothers for a reunion at their local pub. I pulled Norah close when I climbed our of the car and she said, we’re yours, too.

Over dinner my pop asks me why I’m quiet. And I remind him of this morning, of how he has all this beauty around him and he can’t even see it. He poked at his stew and nodded. Then he lifted his eyes, met mine, and said, but this is all yours too.

So that was my first day. You’re not seeing tons of photographs {I took a total of 30 pictures and left my phone at home, very unlike me}. You’re not reading about how I raced about the city trying this dish and that. You’re seeing two meals, and reading about how my pop and I realized that we both needed to open our eyes.




7 thoughts on “open your eyes: dublin, day one

  1. beautifully written. i have next to no family, and the relationship with what’s there is more than rocky… so reading this is bittersweet. enjoy Dublin xoxo


  2. Wow, your post slayed me, Felicia. Your comments on your father brought me to tears. hope the trip continues to surprise and move you.


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