It is really no secret that we in the newspaper business do things in advance to buy ourselves enough time in a busy world. So I am writing this column in advance of going to Dublin, Ireland, on an eight-day vacation. And so, by the time you read this I will be only days away from wrapping up the visit.
As I think about my first visit to the Emerald Isle, I stretch my imagination to try to figure out how I couldn't have a good time in the charming land of my ancestors. Well, we were really Scots-Irish and I am never quite sure about how that all came about, so I guess I claim Scotland and Ireland. I have never been to either. It was only a year ago that I bourbon up my courage enough to fly to Europe, and in that case the fun trumped the fear.
I guess the plane could fall out of the sky, but because I am flying Delta and I have supreme confidence in their mechanics and crew, I am discounting this chance (even though I squirm and wince at the slightest turbulence). I guess the little cold I have developed in the last few days could turn into pneumonia. But because I have been lucky medically in my life, I am sure that won't happen. The weather could stink but I can deal with that.
I guess other things I can't even imagine could happen.
But I am betting that nothing can make this a dull, boring or unfun time. Just the thought of going someplace that has held such a fascination and warm feeling in me all my life will make everything perfect. As I have said in the past I am not one of those people easily bothered by little things. So the potatoes are cold. So the beer is not warm enough (see, I am getting ready for the change), so I go into a pub and no one sings "Danny Boy." It just won't bother me.
Over my life I have seen about every movie or play about Ireland I can. I have watched every documentary on the potato famine and the Easter Uprising. I have read what I could. I have watched and pulled for Ireland's soccer teams. I even watched the Perry Como Christmas special in Dublin which PSC reshows each year during its fund-raising effort.
Ultimately, you would have to say I bleed green blood. I am so happy the two Irelands agreed to stop killing each other and try to get along. Afterall, the big CEO in the sky made us all and I don't think likes it when we fight over what divides us rather than embracing others over what brings us together.
I must say Ireland, a nation of 3.8 million, is a land of contrasts. It has a happy fun-loving population, and at the same time has this dark brooding side. I don't think I have ever seen an Irish play that doesn't temper the fun of life with a gloomy fatalistic view. People drown in the plays, they end up living alone with no one to love them, they fight and argue and they see the ghosts of the past.
On this trip, I think I am going to stay in Dublin and save train travel about the country for another visit.
But who knows what I may end up doing on this trip. I certainly don't. I never plan anything. I just get there and react. I know that would drive some of you crazy if we traveled together. But I am finding out that there is usually a bank card machine around, that there is some form of transportation to get you to and from the airport and that you catch onto the country's currency and food pretty quickly. And if you are not going anywhere special in that country, you can't get lost and if you take the wrong turn you will see something you never saw before and that is just fine.
When I complete the trip, two days after you read this, so far in my life I will have been to three parts of Canada, Cancun, Amsterdam, Prague twice and now Ireland. This may not seem much for those of you born with a passport sticking out of your diaper. But for a Southern boy whose parents stuck close to home when they weren't working and only once a year took us on an excursion to the next town over 30 miles away, this is a lot of traveling. God willing and the creek don't rise, I hope to keep adding more and more fun and exotic places to my travels.
Until that time, may I say to you: May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .