Thursday, April 30, 2009

One of the gang

It should be noted that after spending eight weeks and three days in Ireland and having weathered many an illustrious comment about the weather from locals and recent locals alike: Maria the Romanian cleaner; Michael, the Philippine carer; Raj, the handsome nurse from India; Festus, the gentle Nigerian Physiotherapist; Rita, the pretty Chinese waitress; the charming Isaac from Ghana, and the Polish security guard whose name I don't know— not to mention the colorful collection of Irish nurses with as many a varied accent as the weather itself, that I hadn't yet had to pull out my umbrella and spring it into service until today.
My father had given me the thing for my morning walk to the hospice, advising me to carry it at all times. It's a navy blue convertible, probably twenty years old. It sat useless in my pack for the longest time, rolled and inert, waiting for the rain that wouldn't come. I'd listen to the forecast and it would be fifty, seventy, eighty percent chance. It was always raining somewhere on the island. Always moving in or out over the Atlantic, or coming in over the Irish sea. Some days shipping was curtailed. One time the Hovercraft to France was canceled. Warnings and the threat of an outburst were everywhere; on the screen, in the press, on the airwaves, on the net. But still, it never rained on me until today— as I said eight weeks and three days after my arrival. Ireland was for the first time as I had remembered her: a land shrouded in moist mystery with a quiet chill that would cut you to the bone.
I had to fidget a little to get it open and only then did I realize that it was broken. I hadn't bothered with a preliminary safety check. I figured, well, I'm in Ireland, maybe the buses don't always run on time but at least the umbrellas will work. Two of the supports were buckled, presumably from the force of some long ago storm.
Initially, I was pissed off thinking why did he give me an umrella that didn't work properly. I should have just brought one from Denver. I had looked at one in REI before I came but decided that at forty dollars it was a rip off. But now I wasn't so sure. It had been made in Portland so you'd think they would know.
But then I noticed my fellow pedestrians. On the walk down Mount Merrion Avenue I counted six umbrellas with some sort of a malfunction out of a total of nine not counting the one on the bicycle. They were all using broken umbrelas. School girls, legal looking types, the guy on the bicycle.
I guess finally I felt like a local—one of the gang at last.

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