The last thing I remember after boarding the plane was Dr. A asking for two Irish whiskies on the rocks. Unfortunately, the only whiskey our flight had available was from Tennessee, so we settled for a Bailey’s Irish Crème instead. After that, Dr. A and I both passed out. I’m sure by now you can probably guess where we were headed. Thanks to the huge tech sectors in both Austin and Dublin, American Airlines now has direct flights running constantly between the two, so we made the last flight out that night.
Before this trip, the only things I really knew about Ireland had to do with leprechauns, St. Patrick’s Day, and James Joyce. I’d used a Joyce quote in my sugar baby profile, the one that caught Dr. A’s interest, “love loves to love love,” so it seemed appropriate that we ended up flying here now on vacation. Dr. A seemed to know even less about Ireland than me, so upon landing we googled the three phrases that made the most sense to us: “Hotel,” “Dublin,” “James Joyce,” and it worked. We told the taxi driver to take us to Blooms hotel.
We arrived in a daze of windy rain and cold. But even with the freezing temperatures, everything that surrounded us remained a vivid green. There were these amazing 1920s style portraits of Molly, Bloom, and Stephen from Ulysses, painted four stories high on our hotel. The brightly colored murals reminded me of the art around Austin. I really couldn’t have imagined anything more wonderful or whimsical than this. It was early afternoon when we arrived and a little too soon to check in, so we left our bags at the front desk and went walking around, eventually ending up in a little pub down the street, where we ordered a traditional Irish breakfast.
“You guys look you’re in town for a visit,” the waiter said. “What may I get for you?”
Dr. A and I looked at one another. “Bring us two of whatever you’d consider a good Irish breakfast,” Dr. A said.
We learned quickly here that the Irish don’t mess around when it comes to the first meal of the day. There’s no cup of coffee and a biscuit. The waiter brought us pints of Guinness and two large plates with eggs, beans, tomatoes, sausages, potatoes, and toast. Considering how hung over we were from a combination of jet lag, travel, and last night’s drinking, this had to be the Irish breakfast of champions. After eating we decided to wander around a little more.
“We need to get you something warmer to wear,” Dr. A said. “And me, too. It’s the damp cold here that makes you feel it so much more.”
I was wearing my dad’s old camouflage fleece jacket, which had been serving as my winter coat since I’d left for college. We were passing by a couple of tourist shops and noticed one that had stacks of thick wool sweaters. The sweaters were made of Irish wool, the kind I imagined a fisherman might wear, which was exactly what we needed right now. Dr. A bought himself one in dark green and me one in white; now there was no questioning that we were tourists. We walked around a little more, before going back to the hotel to officially check in.
By now we were tired, as the adrenaline and alcohol began to wane. We shed our sweaters, boots, and other layers, before falling exhausted into bed together. I couldn’t tell if I was shivering now because I was tired, cold, or both. We held each other and began to kiss, and then slowly melted into one another, and then into a much needed sleep.