I wrote a ton in Ireland and Italy, and although I wasn't able to publish any blogs because of the lack of technology, I saved 'em all up in a notebook and will publish them over the next couple of weeks.
Perfect timing is rolling up to Burke St. (after a 7 hour flight followed by a 2 hour layover followed by a 2 hour flight followed by a 2 1/2 hour drive) and within seconds of stepping out of the car, hearing a familiar voice screaming "Lou!" (my mom's name in Ireland, pronounced like LEW). "Cuz! Hey cuz!" It's Ian, wonderful cousin Ian, who is getting married in five days. He is accompanied by two men who are each carrying a bag of freshly fried chips and cradling them to their chests as if they were holding babies. The three are trashed, smiling and laughing, and a beautiful sight for my bleary, dry, and yes, sore eyes. So happy these guys were here to meet us.
Ian embraces me and lifts me off the ground as he launches into his lightning-fast and often hard to understand exclamations about how he's nearly shitting himself about the upcoming wedding. He offers to help with our bags, and he and his friends go ahead and carry our suitcases up the narrow staircase of my great-grandmothers house; 13 steps to the second floor, 13 more to the third, on a staircase no wider than 2 1/2 feet. I hear MJ (who I will soon learn is "the funny one") shouting "how many fecking floors does this fecking house have?!" He nicknames it Fawlty Towers.
At this point, it's about 12:15 am and we hear a knock on the window of the first floor living room. It's Ian's father, my uncle Michael, who "heard something" (i.e. his son screaming in the street) from his house three doors up the road. Everybody is chatting, laughing, hugging, offering tea. MJ asks if we need a trip to the pub. I look around at the bright faces and smiles and I feel my heart surge - I know we are home.
This is Ian. Love you, Cuz!
Aaaaannnd this is MJ and Christie, the bag-carriers:
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