It’s 5 a.m. and you’re humming “Don’t worry about me, mama, I’m alright” to your desperate mother. You have just told her that you will go to Ireland and she has abandonment issues in reverse. You are not moved at all, instead you try to remember where the hell have you heard those words, “maybe it was Tom Waits? Or the Gaslight Anthem?”
She you drunk with joy in the typical Irish pub. Your father too sees your image in the pub, perhaps standing on the counter shouting “what’s the craic?” to the regular customers. But there’s no concern in his eyes … rather a bit of envy.
“Don’t worry about me, mama, I’m alright,” while you recall the passionate and nostalgic stories your friend told you about Ireland: “Guinness,” he started excitedly clicking his tongue, brand new Candlewick with the taste of the famous stout in his mouth, “Guinness tastes totally different from the one we drink here. But let me tell you …”.
You don’t need to listen to him because you already know everything.
For years, you have been reading of Irish hills and courted the cliffs and the wind that combs your thoughts and envied the birds.
You think that a land that gave birth to 4 Nobel prizes (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, Heaney) and has Wilde, Swift and Joyce on the bench– hey, the American Dream Team hasn’t all these top players – must be special. And with all these high-sounding names, you could really play a quote game, as Morrisey in Cemetry Gates, and have Wilde on your side, a wonderful dandy with the clover in the buttonhole and his eyes anything but withered.
And how often have you imagined to be the frontman of U2 – wait a minute! They’re Irish too – and sing “A Sort of Homecoming”, especially when he climbs the notes, “on borderland we run”? And you modulate your vocal cords and your heart, looking forward to go back home and imagine your house under the famous Irish sky.
U2, Dublin, Brian Eno. But also the violin and the crazy and fast accordion of the traditional Irish music, “Please Madam, dance with me and look me in the eyes cuz the night is less frightening with a friend by your side” and let’s see what remains at the end of the evening singing Dirty Old Town and The Wild Rover, timeless evergreen (and there’ll be trouble for those who don’t know them by heart).
The Pogues, The Dubliners, The Chieftains and the whole happy band of drunk musicians with sensitive soul that fill the pubs with jumps and screams, all brothers and sisters, in solidarity for the lost love and with a toothless soul.
And again Dublin, the Liffey River, the bridges and its boardwalk on the water, its history is yours, because where there is a river there is a change, “river, river carry me home”, the River does not judge, the river listens and comforts you.
And not only Dublin but Belfast and its history, Galway with its docks, boats, entertainments and oysters and Cork, the cultural capital with 20 bridges overlooking the River Lee.
And then the weather, oh yes, the rainy weather, it rains 20 times a day and 20 times the sun comes up again and it’s like a lady who doesn’t know which dress she will wear, Ireland, but you don’t care because you know that whatever she will be wearing, she will always look beautiful to you.
In addition, the rain inspires poets and leaves villains at home, it smells like choices and washes away sins, is married to museums and the National Gallery, creates a quiet sound so you can focus on words.
And words matter, like “don’t worry about me, mama, I’m alright.”