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August 1, 2007

European Camp Daddy - Day 2

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Wednesday August 1st

At 2:30 a.m., I’m wide awake. Ciccadian Rhythms wildly out of sync.

Jennifer is fast asleep in the bed beside me, eternally clutching her penguin Mumbles. I think about how odd, but how common, it is that she’s compelled to pass through this life perpetually clinging to that infernal talisman. The two are, for good or ill, inseparable.

Dublin leads the continent of Europe in traffic collisions. Outside the window, the traffic courses through the city’s streets.

The problem with the streets in Dublin, and many roads in Europe, is that they were designed a millennia before the automobile, and the buildings grew too close together. Inevitably, the cars are funneled through insufferably narrow roads

The lanes in the roads are little more than guidelines. Cues for mad actors in an ill-conceived play. Jennifer and I are riding through these thoroughfares perched high above the fray in a double-decker bus. Me, desperately clutching Jennifer. She, desperately clutching Mumbles.

They say tonnage is the law of the road, and no place is this more true than Dublin where legions of Irish lurch through the city’s arteries in cars the size of golf carts. Frequently, we seem poised to collide with multiple vehicles at once. The bus is large, but the steel bar before us is not reassuring.

I’m clutching Jennifer and she’s clutching Mumbles and I see that we are not so different, she and I. She is my talisman.

Possibly the only thing worse than the strangled cobblestone streets in Dublin are the suicidal sidewalks. They are alarmingly narrow. Pinched harrowingly between the rolling steel juggernaut of commuters and the unforgiving stone buildings.

Plus, since they drive on the wrong side of the road, I found myself inadvertently walking with my back to traffic, inches from the curb, something I would never do in the U.S.

The crosswalks warn “LOOK RIGHT? in white block letters three feet tall. Looking left instead of right before crossing dispatches countless pedestrians every tourist season.

“Let’s go in here, Daddy.?

And we duck into a store to dodge the traffic, the way one ducks in to get out of the rain. She has found “Lush?. They sell “bath bombs? and soaps. It’s hard to walk by the store without going in. And she’s walking through the store sniffing and touching all of the brightly colored bath bombs. Jennifer is focused on the soaps and oils, like a carpenter bee on a clover.

We have this same store in Boulder, but I don’t tell her that. Don’t want to detract from the novelty of finding something special in a far flung corner of the globe.

Other girls are in the store, not much older than her, and they’re all similarly lost. But they’re not clutching stuffed animals. At least visibly, anyway, and somewhere in the shopping frenzy, she sets down Mumbles and I see him there, alone, lost in the corner. I always knew that Jennifer needed the penguin, but I never saw how much the penguin needed her.

And she’s standing there now, teetering on the edge of becoming a woman, blending in with the older girls, as the penguin and I watch helplessly from the sidelines.

Outside, the menacing traffic is snarled and snarling. Inside, Mumbles sits, patiently, stuffed and silent, hoping that she’ll collect him when she leaves the store.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 1, 2007 at 6:34 AM

Comments

And the beat goes on....

Posted by: sl on August 1, 2007 at 6:50 AM

Hi Jen! I bet Ireland is really pretty! Send me a postcard!

Posted by: Michelle on August 1, 2007 at 11:38 AM

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