So after an incredibly long, blessedly uneventful day of flying, I got off the airplane and zoomed to baggage claim courtesy of a wheelchair service provided by Aer Lingus Airlines. I picked up my official Rick Steves' travel bag, strapped it on my walker, tipped the wheelchair pusher and headed outside to an overcast sky and an unfamiliar setting.
And I thought: Oh my God, I'm in Ireland. How did I get here and now what do I do?
I have feared travel ever since my first accident.
a) I was a young and hopeful singer/songwriter on my first national tour when I was hit by a car while walking. I was in Arkansas. The entire tour had to be cancelled and I couldn't drive,
b) I would lie in bed, recovering, thinking about where I would have played that night.
c) I had no career, and, even worse, now I was afraid to travel.
a) Everything would change 30 years later with the second accident. This accident was much more serious than the first one.
b) with the second one I laid in bed at rehab centers and hospitals and my brother's house for four months, later to go home to near-isolation in my messy and lonely apartment.
c) I daydreamed about open spaces and travel and friends. I hungered for it.
d) at some point I realized that a trip to Ireland was possible.
a) I announced to my family on Christmas Day that I was going to Ireland. They gave me their full support. They weren't the only ones.
b) I had a full support team. My physical therapist, my physical trainer, my psychologist -- they all took on preparing me to finally step foot on another continent.
c) I made all the arrangements, with Matt who answered my email with "For reals?" I bought a round-trip ticket to Dublin, applied for a passport, and made my plans. Exciting, huh? Until it almost fell apart.
d) In the space of one hour, I was informed that my ticket wouldn't work with my physical condition, my disability checks were being cut off, and I was in danger of losing my job.
a) Trip almost gets cancelled when ticket, disability, and job are all threatened.
b) Determination; to hell with expense; I am going.
c) For the next week I went through the motions and packed, took care of details like getting to the airport, getting home from the airport, little things like that. Before I knew it, my sister-in-law was at my door, ready to drop me of at Portland International.
d. I was on a airplane. I was going to Ireland. There was nothing I could do about it now.
a) I take a bus to Donegal county and look out the window and thinking "This is what I dreamed about in rehab." It was all different shades of green. There were sheep everywhere.
b) I met some of my retreat mates in Donegal and we went out to dinner and then to a pub to hear traditional music. The place got rowdy. I knew I was in the right place.
c) songwriting retreat, ocean, cliffs, new friends, compulsive writing.
d) pub at night, Eunan, playing in pub, pub calls us, locals.
a) I get emotional at last morning meeting. "I won."
b) First half of "Sailor Lost at Sea."