Sheep Ride

Sometimes I wonder if I’m in denial about the fact that in less than 2 months, I’ll be moving to Ireland. I wonder why I’m curiously still about the entire thing; it’s something I’ve been planning for close to a year and studying at “Christminster” is something I’ve dreamed of since I first learned how many of my favorite authors studied there. And yet, mental quiet. I go through motions – paying my tuition fees, making sure my Italian citizenship greenlights me to study there without a student visa, looking at rental listings – but beyond random bursts of joy at the thought of pecking at my assignments from the dark comfort of a moody pub I don’t think about it all that much.

Of course there are thoughts – fleeting ones. I’m asked every day when I’m going, and if I’m talking to strangers, they ask what I do so it creeps into the conversation. Sometimes people are confused – I just came back from Japan and now I’m going where? Some people know “Christminster” and some don’t. Everybody knows Dublin.

I think about hiking through the green fields. I tell Sean I want to ride the sheep. He says I’m “mad” – sheep aren’t for riding, what am I on about? Of course I’m just joking about the sheep, but not so much about the hiking. Then Sean tells me that the weather will be rainy all the time so I can forget about running through all of the green grass with a picnic basket. Don’t worry, he says. It’s still beautiful weather. Nine degrees and rainy – brilliant.

I wonder if the other students will like my writing. I wonder if I’ll be the only American. I wonder if I have a lot of karmic torture coming to me after my years of haranguing Sean about his accent, if my every “dude!” “man,” and “awesome” will be fodder for amusement. Sean giddily tells me my suspicion is correct, right before asking me to hold on because he has to brush his “teet.”

I think, too, about the trip I took to Italy and France in the winter of 2005. I had used the last of my savings to finance the trip so my souvenirs were meager: a bottle of apricot-scented Dop bodywash, a tube of Labello cerise-flavored lip balm, and a handful of unused violet Metro tickets. One by one, my tangible memories of that trip began to disappear. The body wash was the first to go, and I hoarded the lip balm until the last cherry red smears faded from my lips. I still have one of the Metro tickets – the mere sight of it recalls the two days I spent eating mussels in Flanders. Now it’s my Japanese cosmetics that are down to their last dregs. The BB cream, the Keana Scrub, the Ettusais whitening sunscreen. My clothes, artwork, and T’Estimo eyeshadows will last for years, but already I’m losing my grasp.

A brand name can recall a time and a place just as surely as a photograph. I wonder if it will be strange to swap Cape Cods for Taytos when I’ve just stopped expecting to see Calbees lining the shelves.

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