I am forcing myself to write … my eyelids are drooping and I’m slouching like a 7th grade boy…but I know I have to write. However badly, I have to “just do it”. Some writing teacher’s voice is echoing somewhere in the recesses of my mind, saying “writing is a discipline. If you want to be a good writer, you have to do it… even when you don’t feel like it” now, while I wouldn’t say my biggest aspiration in life is to be a “good writer”, I do wish to tell stories, and I wish to tell them well… whether my own or someone else’s… and the way to do that is to muddle your way through your jumbled, late-night thoughts and find the ones that are the most true, meaningful (to you) congruent and full of life.
So here comes my life.
I have been getting several… more than several reminders that 1. My life is a little confusing if you’re not living it (and really confusing if you are) and 2. that I haven’t done a good job at keeping my loved ones (and the world at large, who doesn’t care nearly as much) informed about my life: including my whereabouts and occupation (small “o”).
I intend to rectify this negligence on my part, with no promises that this will be the last time you are confused as to why I can be having passion fruit with an Anglican archbishop one day, and surfing in Ireland the next.
Let me explain.
My family chose, for the first time in who-knows-how-long to take a real, bona-fide vacation. For those of you who know the Ritchie family, you will know that this is completely out of form for us. We just aren’t the book-a-hotel, rent-a-car, hop-on-a-plane and lie-on-the-beach-for-a-week sort of family. In the past, when we have done something “vacation-ish,” we’ve gone places like Rwanda and Iraq. Hardly the sites for eating lobster and getting a tan.
So, when the von Trapps told us they were singing in a music festival in Abbeyfeale, Ireland, “we” decided it might be time to do what normal families do. Take a normal vacation.
The problem is, normal families don’t travel with 17 people… And 6 instruments…
In 4 vehicles.
Needless to say, we could have made big money documenting our trip and selling it to TLC. Thank God for GPS. Somehow we made our way around the country (along the southern coast) stopping at quirky bed and breakfasts along the way and discovering the less-charted areas of the Emerald Isle. It was quite charming, to say the least. The Irish countryside is… (you fill in the blank. I hate using words like ‘captivating’ or ‘beautiful’ to describe something like the Irish landscape. It simply does NOT do it justice.
The trip ended and my family left, two by two. And all was silent. I was given the keys to a gorgeous flat in Dublin for the weekend while I decided what to do next. Saturday night, I was taken, accidentally, to a Gay club. I danced with a Slovakian contortionist. Funny story # 5. Sunday night, I met Iron and Wine on the street. Had dinner with them and got a free ticket to their show. Pretty sweet as well.
I woke up on Monday morning PLANNING to take a ferry to Wales (because I hate to fly) and then trek my way down to London to audition for LAMDA’s one-year-theatre conservatory. Well, the audition slots were full, so I decided to drive BACK, across Ireland, to the Cliffs of Moher… where my friends, the von Trapps were still staying.
So I went on a road trip, by myself, and saw all the things I hadn’t seen yet.
There is something so magical about the winning combo of driving in a beautiful place with beautiful music playing on the stereo. I am sharing this with you now because I had to experience it alone and I wished someone could gave been there. I set my GPS and started to drive: Kilkenny Castle, The Rock of Cashel, the monastic ruins of Glendelough… it was brilliant. I packed a half a loaf of brown bread, whole-grain mustard, turkey and Irish cheese. The sun didn’t set ‘till 10pm… and I finally arrived in Doolin after midnight. Thankfully Justin was awake and let me in.
Next day: Cliffs of Moher… we (the children and I) hiked WAY out, to the end of the point, and sat there, in the thick, squishy grass, for a couple of hours… talking about life and dreams and the color of the waves.
We also discovered the new Kate Rusby CD and listened to it all the way through, to and from the cliffs. Another movie moment.
At home, Annie had made us Chicken Soup, which we ate with brown bread cheese-toast. The perfect ending to a perfect day.
Somehow (still don’t know how) I talked Annie into letting the kids go with me to France for a week. We booked cheap tickets via-Ryan Air and left the next morning.
Life is good.
Now I could go into all the long and boring details of why I was going to France in the first place… but I don’t want to. Suffice to say, we spent a day in Paris, seeing all the cliché sights (which don’t feel so cliché when you’re THERE… there is nothing so unique as eating chocolate banana crepes at the foot of the Eiffel tower) and then took a train down south to Taize. All I knew about Taize before going is this: it is a place where they write and sing songs… some of which we sing at my home church. I soon realized it was a town, overrun by a monastic community where they receive (get this) 2,000-6,000 (!) visitors on a weekly basis. Stranger still is that 92% are from southern Germany and about 89% percent of those are between the ages of 16 and 19. So, basically, we spent the week in a German Christian High School camp.
The highlight (besides the beautiful evenings of candlelit singing in 10 different languages) was sitting around with 400 beer-drinking adolescent Germans, singing “take me home, Country road”, while some German boy played along on his Trumpet.
Mrs. Von Trapp must never know about this. Promise not to tell.
All for now,