Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You Are My Ulysses That I'll Never End

The streets howl with ghosts, the smell of cold rocks.

Edinburgh: Warm people bustling outside thorny houses.

I spend much of Scotland drunk/hung-over. Despite this I meet few Scotsmen. The hostel is run by Australians, and our roommates are French. When we meet, it is in an open door.

Ello," they say.

“Hello,” We say.

Ello," they say.

And so on. We must have stayed there, in the doorway, for at least two minutes greeting each other. We told them to eat a Hershey bar. They told us to watch Godard.

You have two minutes and an open door to communicate your cultural legacy. What will you say?

That night the Australians take us on a pub crawl ending at The Hive. Take the house from Mask of the Red Death and put a deejay in every room. Hang disco balls and strobes from the ceilings. Give Poe's worried guests cheap drinks and gyrating hips.

ViolĂ  Hive.

The next morning, I nurse my hangover with a peanut butter banana milk shake. Chelsea stirs a bowl of porridge. She's so groggy, she's talking about the future.

The Future: What I'm always preparing for / what I hope never-ever comes.

When we get to Dublin, the first thing we do is feast with our hosts, students at the local university. The three boys juggle studying and music (two guitars, some rat-a-tating) with happy yet critical cooking:

"Remember when Gregg burnt the chips?"

"Let's not speak of it."

When it's our turn to make dinner, I diligently chop half an onion before giving in to the Bailey's, already open. All is saved by Chelsea, her spicy, angelic pesto. I aid digestion by reading Flan O' Brian in a Yankee drawl.

Then, a party. The guests arrive. The smell of loose tobacco. A song by R.E.M:

The fear of getting caught
Of restlessness and water--
They cannot see me naked--

James Joyce is the slurred subject of the night. I never finished Ulysses, though I reference the book in my poetry. I love anything making me feel small: Highways, movie screens...James Joyce. My poems try and fail to hold oceans in paper cups. "No one's actually read Ulysses."

A chorus of objections. I stand corrected: At the Dublin city college, there is a whole class devoted to the book. The Irish fetishize Joyce much in the way that Americans build shrines to Hemingway's baby shoes.

Joyce and Hemingway: No, Joyce/Hemingway! By the time I finish a bottle of whisky, I'm convinced they're the same person, one far-flung sailor following s siren.

I've discovered the bridge between modernism and post-modernism. I want to call everyone I know. I want to give high-fives to animals. Break my bones and build fires.

Pour another drink.

The next night is spent in tense sobriety, huddled around a deck of cards. The game is Higher/Lower. We successfully guess that 34 cards are higher or lower than their previous card. The next card, card 35, has us biting our lips. We've come so far, we've drawn diagrams. Calculated probabilies. "Surely it's higher."




Chelsea flips the card, and we flip a shit.

The card is lower.


Thus concludes my Scots-Irish-week-long-bus-hopping-hubaballoo.

The sun was too bright, the cemeteries too old. I can’t describe it. The people were too generous. So much happened, and in so short a time.

You know when film makers adapt Hunter S. Thompson by layering images in glittery, drug-induced sequences?

It was nothing like that.

It was a bottle of whisky with no hangover, a night talking about childhood bedrooms. Another night spent dancing. Birthday candles. Castles. The most masculine lip-ring you ever saw. "Jaysus!". The smell of seagulls. A ghost story.

Then, my forehead against the bus window, highway lights stabbing my eyes as if to say “wake up, wake up—”

The feeling of missing something I never lost.

In the song Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da (typical title for Of Montreal), Kevin Barnes sings "You are my Ulysses that I'll never end."

Even though I'm back to writing essays and drinking shitty English coffee, part of me is still traveling--Hell if i know where.

Somewhere, I'm putting off a shower, writing a book I'll never end.

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