Coming full circle, Part III

I stared at him, kneeling in the sand, holding a glittering diamond ring… and started laughing. I’m not talking a giggle. I’m talking a deep-bellied, whole-body-shaking, tears-streaming-down-my-face, LAUGH.

I had to sit down on a piece of driftwood to regain control. A yes squeaked out at some point, because soon he was placing the ring on my finger, causing even more laughter. Forcing myself to take deep breaths, I looked around us. We were sitting on the Flaggy Shore in County Clare, Ireland and it had all come full circle.

It had started with a poem, then took me to independence, and now was giving me the gift of complete and total happiness. This journey had been five years, two trips to Ireland, and countless readings of “Postscript” in the making.

My then-fiance, now-husband chose the Flaggy Shore very carefully as his spot to propose. He knew it was a place I had claimed as my own, but he wanted to share it. Not take it from me, but share it. It was also an important part of his own history, as his ancestors had immigrated to America from County Clare. So he knelt on one knee and endured my guffaws on that little stretch of coastline because he knew that marriage was about two histories coming together to create a new, combined history, a better history.

There have been only a handful of times in my life when I felt the universe was pointing me in one direction. As we walked back along the mostly deserted path, I experienced one of these instances. There was a woman ahead of us, walking a little brown and white dog. “Bingo!” I called. The dog stopped, cocked its head at me and trotted over.

“How did you know his name?” the woman asked.

“I met him a few years ago, when I was here for the first time. We walked together.” I felt tears, happy tears swim in my vision as I watched them walk away. Something about seeing that little dog again, my companion on my first journey to happiness, told me I had just embarked on another.

Every day I am grateful for the poem, the dog, the country, the shoreline, and the love that brought me full circle. And happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all!

Rainbow across the Burren

Coming full circle, Part I

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, this weekend’s posts on gratitudeequation will tell a gratitude-filled story of how Ireland has given me my place in this world. I hope you’ll tune in for all three posts, and most of all I hope they inspire you to think about the places in your life that have given you more than you could have expected. Enjoy!

The room was hot and windowless and my British Literature professor’s voiced resembled the droning buzz of a bee. My eyes blinked, once, twice, over and over until I snapped myself to attention again.

I needed a distraction, and her lecture was not providing it. I wandered through my textbook, ignoring the section on Byron we were covering, flipping to the back. I turned the page and found this:

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I had never been a great lover of poetry until that moment. It woke me up, not just in the overheated classroom, but in life. I needed to read more of this poet, Seamus Heaney’s work. I needed to go to the Flaggy Shore in September or October. I wanted to feel something so strongly that it could blow my heart open.

That day, I was grateful for the poem because it awakened something in me that hadn’t been there before. It awakened some realization that I was a small, but vital piece, “neither here nor there, a hurry through which known and strange things pass,” to a much larger puzzle. That’s why I was grateful for the poem then, at the age of 20.

Today, seven years later, I have so many bigger, more earth-shattering reasons to be grateful for that poem. It gave me the only experience I will ever be able to say is truly my own. It gave me confidence that I had struggled to find prior. It gave me proof that all the little things really do come full circle in the form of something much, much bigger.

How, you ask? That’s a story for tomorrow, when we’ll cross an ocean, hitchhike our way along the coast, and meet a friend of a friend. I’m grateful for the chance to share it with you, and I hope you’ll come along.

The bibliophile’s solution

Today at work one of my co-workers was talking about needing a new book to read. My ears perked up.

“Do you have a Kindle?” I asked. “Because if you have a Kindle, I can loan you the one I just finished.”

She scrunched up her nose and gave me the line I used up until two months ago: “I prefer real books.”

Truth be told, so do I. When we were kids and my dad was in grad school, my parents had essentially no money for presents or treats for my brother and I. Yet somehow, once every month or so my mom would scrape up enough nickels and dimes to take us to the used bookstore and let us each pick out a couple of books. That bookstore held more adventures than Disneyland in my mind.

I started reading at the age of four and was immediately hooked. In fact, rather than taking away “screen time” as a punishment, my parents would limit the amount of time I was allowed to read. They’ve since told me that was a difficult decision, as they didn’t want to discourage me from learning. They needn’t have worried–today I go through books as fast as I go through bottles of wine, which is saying something.

So I too was in the quickly shrinking group of bibliophiles who couldn’t bring themselves to leave the smell (that wonderful smell!) and texture of books behind for an e-reader. And then one day I looked around our little apartment and realized we had simply run out of space for new books. There was the giant bookcase my parents had given me as a graduation present, books doubled up on each shelf. Then there was the bookcase/window seat my husband had built me as a present for our first Christmas, also doubled up on books. Then there were the windowsills, our mountain views buried behind stacks and stacks of books. Spare drawers around our apartment were filled with books. Either we needed a bigger house, or I needed to find a compact solution.

books

Hmm… which one should I read today?

So I got a Kindle. And no, just to be clear, Amazon is not giving me a single dime for writing this post. I’m quite certain Amazon has no idea this blog exists. I still have mixed feelings about my move away from building up my library of “real” books to building up my library of e-books. I make a point to visit my local bookstore at least once a month and buy a book for a friend, just so I’m not letting a big online store take away from my local hangout.

Guilt aside, I’m grateful for my e-reader. Without it, the great views we have of the mountains would be completely blocked with poetry collections and the complete works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even more than gratitude for that little piece of technology, I feel gratitude for living a literary life, one filled with friends painted in the medium of typeface. It doesn’t matter if I get to feel the turn of the pages between my fingers or with the tap of a screen–those characters and adventures will still be with me.