Archives For Lisa Hannigan

There and Back Again

December 30, 2012 — Leave a comment

2012-10-31 13.02.47

Of course I’d finish this with a Tolkien reference.

To know me is to know my long love of The Lord of the Rings and my ability to connect any and all parts of my life to moments from Tolkien’s works. It’s been almost 30 years now since we were assigned The Hobbit in school, which I tore through in a matter of days and was halfway through The Two Towers by the time the class finished the book. I suppose I’ve outgrown certain parts of the story: the magic and the monsters, mostly, although I still dream of owning my own Hobbit-hole someday.

What stays with me are the small moments, mostly about travel: Bilbo quietly slipping away into the night after laying down his burdens; Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin on the road, heading out of the Shire; the weather-stained clothes and long legs of Strider appearing in a corner of the Prancing Pony. And of course, the idea of regular, small-town folk finding themselves forever changed after going on a great journey.

I’ve traveled quite extensively over the past ten years or so, but after the wandering was done I always came back the same person, to the same town, to the same job. A friend of mine would always say she hoped I would find what I was looking for, after heading out on another one of my solo journeys. I don’t think I ever did, because I was never really sure what I was supposed to find. I was always happy to return home to my friends and family and familiarity.

He lived alone, as Bilbo had done; but he had a good many friends, especially among the younger hobbits.¬†Frodo went tramping over the Shire with them; but more often he wandered by himself, and to the amazement of sensible folk he was sometimes seen far from home walking in the hills and woods under the starlight. He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. He began to say to himself: ‘Perhaps I shall cross the River myself one day.’ To which the other half of his mind always replied: ‘Not yet.’

It took me a long time to finally cross the River myself. And the last six months certainly weren’t as dramatic or traumatic as Frodo’s journey, and there are others out there that have seen and done far more than I ever did while in Dublin. But it is no small thing to pack up your entire life and start over in a faraway place. For a while I thought I was heading over there for good, but reality and practicality have brought me back home once again. In my last post, I wondered what that would be like, and after being home for a week or so, I think I’ve answered my own question.

In the book, the four hobbits return to a Shire badly scarred by the War of the Ring, something the movie altered for a simpler ending. While I prefer the book’s version of events, the idea that Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin return to a place completely unchanged has a different resonance now with me. They sit in the Green Dragon and toast each other and no one else has any idea what they’ve been through and how it’s forever changed them. And try as he might, Sam will never be able to convince the people of the Shire that he’s seen an Oliphaunt.

rotk2438

*   *   *

This is the 40th post, and the last of the tales of my adventures there and back again. Tomorrow I turn 41. Normally I gather together friends and family at a local establishment and we eat and drink in honor of myself. Tomorrow I will probably just go for a long walk. But if I had my way, I would throw some essentials into a pack, grab a good walking stick, and quietly disappear into the night, in search of wild lands and mountains I have never seen. Or perhaps even head back to Dublin. A fine place, it is, full of people I am proud to call my dear friends. “Merry be the greenwood, while the world is yet young! And merry be all your folk!”

wicklow wear

*   *   *

Before I close, I thought I would add a little something for everyone’s enjoyment, if they like this sort of thing. One of the first posts I wrote on this site was called “Passengers.” A reference to a Lisa Hannigan song that ran constantly through my head while I was in Ireland, and also to those that I left behind: my friends and family, and especially my students. This blog was written primarily for them, and if they are still reading it, I hope that they enjoyed following along on my adventures. They, and everyone else back home, were passengers with me, and I thought of them often. So here’s a little something that sums up my time over there, in video form. Hopefully people don’t mind me using these clips of them. I imagine I’ll have more people upset that they weren’t included. Strange to see who and what I don’t have recorded; I could have used a lot more of my friends and family on here, and some students from way back, but hopefully I was able to capture a small slice of my life.

*   *   *

Okay, one more thing. While the farewells in Dublin were sad, and the drive to the airport was just a horrible day all-around, I have to say that it was very heart-warming to have my mother (and fellow world traveler) meet me at the airport.

2012-12-19 15.33.07

Okay, I’ve ended this thing enough times already. Thanks to all my readers, and please stay tuned: these are just the first 40 posts of the 4-T Tales. Even though I have just returned home, I think I am quite ready to go on another journey.

Advertisements

Passengers

August 16, 2012 — 4 Comments

One of the first things I did after arriving in Ireland was head out to Galway, one of my favorite cities. I first visited Ireland exactly ten years ago, and Galway was the city that made me fall in love with this place.

I had a ticket to see Sigur Ros play as part of the Galway Arts Fest, but unfortunately, they canceled at the last minute to continue work on their () album. I still had a fine time in Galway, and it’s a city I return to again and again. It’s a big “small town”, easily navigable, full of great restaurants and pubs, and you can waste a day just walking along the bay.

So after a miserable week in my (first) apartment in Dublin, I decided I needed to get out of town and be a tourist again. (I’ll tell the whole story of that disastrous first place another time.) I wanted to ride a train for a few hours, and I wanted a nice hotel room with decent wifi, and I wanted to catch some of the theatre going on at the 2012 Galway Arts Fest, to remind myself why I was here.

I also wanted to see Lisa Hannigan live.

My students may remember me playing her in class this past spring. A LOT. She’s been my latest musical obsession for the past nine months or so, and I had missed her three times up to this point.

So after wandering around Galway and Salthill for a few days, watching street performers and fringe theatre from college kids, and eating at my favorite restaurants, I caught the lovely Irish singer Lisa Hannigan on a warm summer evening in July. And the lyrics to “Passenger” once again gave me something to think about:

Walking round Chicago,
I have smuggled you as cargo,
though you are far away unknowing.
By the time we get to Salt Lake
I have packed you in my suitcase,
ironed the creases from my own remembering.

It’s a song about the things you can’t leave behind as you move from one thing to another. And while it’s exciting and different and (most of the time) a lot of fun being here in Dublin, I haven’t left everything and everyone behind. My friends and family, my students and my performers. They are with me in spirit, and I keep them close. You were all passengers in my suitcase.