My window on Ireland’s Eye – Laura Cimetta
My window on Ireland’s Eye, by Laura Cimetta, Creative Writing Course ‘Found in Translation’ 2017.
Howth, March 2004
It was set.
We’d go and live in Dublin, the three of us, as expatriates for how long I hadn’t the slightest idea. After a virtual exchange of emails with our relocation agent Siobhan (at that time I didn’t know the funny pronunciation of that Irish female name) about homes for rent, I got the first sight of my dream: “I emailed photographs of Howth Lodge to you also.”
The two-bed apartment was “corporate” style as they say, which means luxury finishes, modern style, Jacuzzi, electronic twinkling ceiling lighting, Zanussi household appliances – I saw that as a sign of Fate –, built-in coffee maker – what could be better for an Italian family? – wooden floors and marble tiles instead of the traditional carpets and wallpapers I abhorred.
While reading the description of the apartment in the website Home.ie – Spectacular coastal views; Private access to the beach; Stroll to an enchanting village; Feature balcony over the sea; Jacuzzi in bathroom; Gated and secure – the mental image of the private landscaped garden with access to the beach was already like a mirage.
As a matter of fact, reality would exceed my expectations because, when we set our foot in that development and Siobhan opened the entrance door, the large window leading to the balcony and overlooking the sea immediately blinded me. The view of the little island of Ireland’s Eye was stunning!
I couldn’t even breathe.
I had always dreamt of living in such a place! I could picture myself unlocking the metal gate, walking along the beach to go shopping to the harbour, doing the housework while listening to the seagulls, cooking delicious fresh fish, strolling by the sea; how romantic of me and, if it weren’t cheesy enough, I could add “with the wind unravelling my hair”. My heart had already chosen but when my son who at the time was eleven years old, candidly said “ I don’t link it, mommy, it looks like a hotel,” I must admit that I couldn’t help taking his opinion into consideration. That’s why we ended up in a designer house, with a garden for my son but much farther from school – so that I had to become a taxi-mother – and without sea view.
Here I am in Howth Lodge.
We had to move here since, in the previous home, every time it rained, and believe me in Ireland it means pretty often, it leaked inside and I had buckets full of water all around the house. It must have been the Goddess of Rain, hidden among those phantasmagorical Irish skies, who from up above helped me fulfill my dream.
So, here I am in my reverie.
Wherever I sit, I feel surrounded by Beauty. When I come home, before accessing the building, I sit on the bench under a palm tree and smell the lavender flowerpots. When I enter my cosy apartment, I relax on my orange sofa, sipping a cup of fragrant espresso in front of the fireplace, while outside the wind rages and the waves crash against the surrounding stonewall. I can just indulge myself in reading some books of poetry, writing my Blog or editing my photos on the computer. Before going to bed, I open the large French window and, wrapped by darkness, I sit and listen to the most soothing sound ever, the sound of the sea. Sometimes, when I wake up at dawn, if the sun is shining, I sit on my balcony with my adored little dog Kobe on my lap and stare at the amazing multi-coloured view made of all nuances of water blue dissolving into the orange, yellow and grey clouds.
Sometimes I can spot a huge rainbow or an airplane coming and going, red sails here and there, endless golden sand where I’ll be walking for hours with my furry little friend unleashed running wild, no matter whether it’s stormy, rainy, sleety, snowy, windy or sunny. Too often I find myself contemplating the life I’m living and telling myself that this is not a real life, not a real home but a sort of diamond temple with the taste of Paradise. It’s the first time in my life that I actually relish and bask in my solitude. I am totally aware that I’m living a dream that cannot last forever. Every time I feel that delight, a mix of emotions blend in and seize my soul: fear of losing that essence of happiness made of primordial elements like wind, sea, sand and freedom. The freedom of not knowing what tomorrow will be like, the freedom of unlimited potential: my window overlooking the horizon.
Since we left our home under the Irish skies in 2006, every year I feel the urge to go back, as if on a pilgrimage. I cannot stay in my lodge – I wish I could rent it even if for a short time – so I arrive in Howth, check on the harbour with its coloured fishing boats & wander along the path by the railroad, hoping the tide will be low, so that I can reach the beach right below my balcony.
Every time I feel like a teenager who’s about to meet up with her boyfriend, with butterflies in my stomach and a hidden fear of being disappointed at finding out that things have changed and the object of my love is not the way I remembered and expected. Last time we visited there was a stranded fridge and loads of trash on my beach and I could barely cope with that hideous sight.
Ireland Eye is still standing there, aloof and mysterious in its wilderness.
The seagulls are all resting on the water’s edge, and so it’s the old shipwreck covered in moss in the middle of the sea, we used to walk to when the tide was low. As soon as I get closer, the flock of seagulls flaps and flies away crying. That sound hasn’t changed, and it still makes me shiver with reminiscence. I keep on walking on the seashore until I’m in front of the gate. It’s closed and I cannot open it with my magnetic key, the way I used to do when wet and covered in salt and sand I looked forward to sheltering from the wind in my warm and lovely home. The apartment looks inhabited, but the new tenants haven’t changed the aluminium table and chairs we’d bought but left there when we moved out. From down below, that balcony looks smaller. The pangs of nostalgia at the mental pictures of my hours spent there alone or with my beloved husband or in the company of a close friend my brain is sending me, come in waves and are bitter sweet. I cannot help ruminating about that now distant blissful past. I keep on staring at my second-floor past expatriate life and choose to accept the existence of those thoughts I can now relegate to the background of my consciousness, anytime I want. I sit on the sand, inhale the salty air, try to impress in my memory every sound and nuance of colours and hold back the tears that inevitably, every time I go there, I could shed but instead choose to choke back.
“Goodbye Howth Lodge, I’m going home now, to my other life but you know I’ll be back.”
The End of Duality
A double rainbow kaleidoscope
has sealed my dual soul.
Double language duplicity of
emotions contrasting pulses –
nostalgia torn by undressed detachment.
Your sunny blue skies
are nothing compared
with those dramatic clouds
of my memories,
crashed away by the wind.
I was about to
lose my way.
I’ve now found
my due renaissance.
What was the price?
A single lost
wave has crashed away
my sight of seagulls.