We had dinner reservations in Ardmore, but it wasn’t quite time yet.
My mom and stepdad Mikey, brother, aunt and uncle had traveled together, embarking on a two week road trip around Ireland. My aunt and uncle and mom wanted to do a little shopping in town so Mikey, my brother, and I embarked on a mini journey of our own.
We followed the road up a narrow stretch of cobblestones following signs towards a castle. I lost the road at a switchback up the steep street, but backed the van out of the hotel parking lot on the cliff and with encouragement from my companions found the road again. We nearly bailed when the road got too narrow for two cars to pass, but eventually we found our way to the top. Here, the road became deep dirt ruts where a grass island grew between them, isolated from the great meadow around us.
We spotted a tower in the distance and I drove towards it. We were going exploring. I knew my brother would be into a little wander, but I wasn’t so sure about Mikey.
I parked close to the tower, and we all got out, my brother and I first while Mikey hung back near the van. I bee-lined straight for the tower, whose stairs did not reach the top, but rather only brought me to the center of the fortress where I peered out of a small window. Mikey still stood back near the van like he wasn’t quite ready for a detour. My brother had already made his way out across the lush meadow to the edge of the cliff, where the earth dropped dramatically a few hundred feet to the sea.
I climbed down from the tower and made my way across the field to join my brother. At the edge, I peered down to the water where the waves crashed with all their force against the earth, but the earth did not move. It had been taken a beating for quite some time. Though erosion was undeniable, it appeared now to be holding shape firmly.
By the time we’d come back up from the edge, Mikey had made his way to the tower. At the first of its steps I watched as he craned his neck up, surveying the stone surface of the bygone structure. He took a few steps inside, and as I approached, I beckoned him to turn and face me for a camera shot.
Time had flown by without notice, but we were due to meet back up with the rest for dinner reservations, so we hopped back in the van and made a loop back down to town. On the way, we passed an olden, haunting graveyard speckled with Celtic crosses, tucked in beside the beautiful medieval church for which Ardmore is known. The Round Tower at the center soared high above the town, too high for even the most dramatic camera angle, though the allure to capture the scene was too great not to try. The weathered stone was darkened with time, spotted unevenly, and the blue sky and glowing green grass against it were in beautiful contrast. The sunlight gleamed around us.
Our spread at dinner would make a rotund man jealous. There was hardly room for all our dishes. We ate delectable seafood, fish and shrimp and perfectly seared scallops, hearty brown bread, roasted potatoes, asparagus, lamb chops, (I could go on), and washed it down with a variety of beer and wine. Our bellies were more than full, and the check was paid. We’d all begun rustling up out of our chairs, but Mikey and I were first out the door.
Outside White Horses, I looked up and down the street, but first down towards the sea. The crashing of white foam on sandy beaches will forever allure me. Then I peered up the street where Mikey stood. He’d pulled open the sliding door of the van and left it open, waiting for us. He never really stands still though. He swayed back and forth, shifting his weight from right foot to left and back again. He faced a glass window front of the building next to Whitehorse and read the postings in his best Irish accent.
He hadn’t yet seen me, but I had a hunch he knew I was listening. His hands were stuck halfway in the pockets of his black Lee jeans, and his right wrist bent out slightly to relax his elbow. The white teeth of his smile glimmered through brightly as he giggled at his own goofy joking, and at the end of the line he was reading aloud, he turned his head to me laughing and pointing at the poster.
I’d been stopped in my tracks for a few minutes, just looking up the street at him, falling in love, though first I’d walked half a block away. His pull was stronger than the sea. After an eternal moment, I mustered up some words.
“Why’d ya leave the door wide open?” I playfully questioned, smiling.
“Well,” he stammered a bit, “I thought they were coming out…” His words tapered off as I climbed the hill towards him, and then past him to the van, pulling the door shut.
Standing down the street watching him, I’d become overwhelmed by the desire to slide under his arm and wrap my arm around his waist. I remembered how well I fit under his arm, how naturally my shoulder felt tucked into his armpit, and how his arm draped comfortably around my shoulder.
Now that I’d found a reason to walk back up the street, I’d gained the courage to find the place again.
I approached him from behind bowing my head down to nuzzle open the space between his arm and his body, and immediately felt the warmth of his side against mine. I wrapped my arm around him, laying my hand of his hip at his belt, as his fell over my shoulder right where I’d expected it.
He didn’t squeeze me. I was close enough that he didn’t need to. I couldn’t have gotten any closer. And as I stood there, figuring out that I have a terrible time mimicking an Irish accent, I felt our spirits know one another. I felt love exchange back and forth between us. I felt safe and well and perfect, like I was exactly in the right place. I was a little girl again in the protective arms of her father, though now that I’d grown, I knew we were both here for each other.
I botched another word, and as he corrected me, I jumped out from under his arm and across the street to read more billboards.