“Many travel stories begin as an attempt to impress pretty women.” – Rolf Potts, The Art of Writing a Story about Walking Across Andorra.
This is how it happens: you’ve been doing a damned good job of staying on the writing wagon, keeping to your routine: bowl of porridge and cup of tea in the morning. Write until mid-afternoon, go out and walk a loop on the peninsula. Dinner. Maybe down to Eileen’s for a pint. Home, sleep, wash, rinse repeat.
And then, there you find yourself: mid-air off the pier over Lough Hyne, hoping you’ve leaped far enough to clear the rocks and hit deep water, while a pretty young woman inauspiciously named “Ophelia” cheers you on.
You can’t really explain how you got to Lough Hyne. You didn’t even know it existed an hour ago, and you’re still not sure you can find it on the map. You’d started out, innocently enough, popping a couple of towns over to pick up a sandwich at the pub that your guidebook had recommended. And somehow it led to this. To you, mid-air, pondering your life choices.
In between, there was a… a Blackpudding Museum somewhere (with projected ghost butchers who urged you to buy souvenir t-shirts). There was coffee with a couple of kayakers you’d just been introduced to, and a place that claimed to be the Time Traveler’s Bookshop. One thing led to another, and you just rolled with it.
Turns out the water is plenty deep, and despite your initial apprehension, swimming here really isn’t a bad idea. So when the young woman’s uncle tells you you’ve got to come down to Baltimore harbor to join them all for a pint, you roll with that, too. In for a penny, you’re in for a…uh, Euro. And find yourself waterside in the shadow of a 13th century pirate castle, swapping sass with siblings and discussing Vonnegut. They’re writers and film folks, and you begin to infer that you’re in the presence of more Emmys and BAFTAs than you could fit on an average fireplace.
When things finally wind down, it’s way past midnight and you’re following the moon home with music in your ears. You’re actually on your way back from a different pub, on a different peninsula (“…it seemed like a good idea at the time”) where you’ve been singing with a cluster of locals. But as bats flit through your headlights along the narrow, deserted road, you know there’s going to be no way you can actually piece this day together into a single, coherent story. It doesn’t make any sense, not even to you. And you just know you’re going to have a serendipity hangover tomorrow.