Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Sweetness of Leaving

It's easy to forget when in the throes of one that endings are beginnings.

My life in Dublin is ending. By next Saturday morning, I will have gathered all my possessions either brought or acquired here, and fly them, along with me and two cats, back to Boston. It's one thing to fall in love with a place while on vacation--even on an extended vacation. But this was no vacation. There was "vacation" along the way, but as a whole, this was a life. I (co-)created a life here in Dublin, befriending Donnybrook and Ringsend, Ballsbridge and Temple Bar--even Howth, Greystones, Wicklow, Westmeath, Killiney, Dalkey and beyond. The westernmost Counties stole my heart, for sure. And although on one hand I preferred the time I spent in the countryside, I have grown a strong and sure affection for "Dublin's Fair City."

Then there is the apartment: the "terrace" the whole length of these floor-to-ceiling windows, the patio plants, the blooming cyclamen, the tea mugs in constant use, the egg cups-turned-candlesticks, the barmbracks and brown soda breads, the EuroSpar "pantry" downstairs, the rainbow hunts, and the countless hurried walks with less time than we needed to get to our film or gallery or meetup. Next Saturday, our life here goes "Poof!" It will exist no longer. Sure, the "candlesticks" and the tea mugs might survive transport, if one or the other of us takes them. But the apartment is already re-rented, the packing has already begun, the plane ticket is long paid for: I am going, and all this will be no more. Dublin's not going anywhere, I know. I can return. But I can never return to this life.

This life was a glorious, sometimes challenging, enlightening, joyful, and temporary life. I have been so busy feeling sad about the ending, I haven't paid a lot of attention to the ultimate source of the sadness: I loved what I am leaving. And it is thanks to that loving, thanks to the exquisite richness of the time, to all the components of that richness--colorful, vibrant fragments in the stained glass panel that is the sum of it all--that I am sad to leave it.

Yet the "Poof" and the awareness of the "Poof" has me cherishing it all with renewed vigor. Only nine days remain. In those nine days, I will enjoy the remaining ducks eggs, I will feast my eyes on the Book of Kells at Trinity. I will pore over Henry Clarke's windows at Hugh Lane and at Bewley's. I will imbibe one more long draught of the Yeats exhibition, buy my book of Wilde's wit and witicisms, and frolic amidst the deer of Phoenix Park. I will savor the last of the Polish confitura, the French picholines and Pomerol. I will kiss my sweet love goodbye, at least for a time. There have been tears and there will be many more. That's the thing about leaving, about endings when they are so final: they are bitter, but also sweet--that's "the sweetness of leaving," I want to call it just now.

Before me is yet a new variation on the canvas of sky that is the view from the apartment. Beneath that ever changing sky--never the same twice--is the "stage" of Wicklow Mountains. Across that stage the gulls are illuminated as they wheel and dip. Across that stage, planets and flying swans, moons, curtains of light and rain, of dawn and dusk have drawn: come and gone. I think I could watch this living drama for decades and never tire of it, constant surprise that it is. But maybe not, because the nature of staying is to stop seeing with the eyes of one who is going.

It's just a trick of thought, though: it is all going; we are all going.

I take photographs not to outwit this force, but often ignoring it, I realize. It shouldn't surprise me, as I walk around Dublin, that the early spring bursts--daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, primrose--I shot a month ago are all gone. Brown dirt patches have replaced those riots of color and fragrance, alight with honeying bees, that once dazzled the senses.

How much of life I live under the illusion of sameness, of steady-as-she-goes! Too often I forget it is all a grace and fleeting. I am grateful to this leaving for restoring me to the preciousness of that fact, grateful to this stage of earth, this canvas of sky for their reminder that change is constant, that there are no second chances.

And if I've said all this a hundred times before then good: it bears repeating. We are leaving everything all the time. In every moment, we begin again. Someday I'll really get this. Someday I'll master the dying that is required to really live.


Blogger Buenos dias con Poesía said...

You will start again. I miss to live in someother place for a while. I have never been in Dublin but I will soon. I doubt it about Boston. Too far. From America I prefer Brasil.

Nice to read you.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Kathryn Deputat said...

Thank you for reading, JL, and for your heartful comment--you're right!

There's a lot to love about Dublin. Home in Boston now, and I miss Ireland already! It was wonderful - I do recommend it!

10:00 PM  

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