Saturday, September 30, 2006

Misty Bell Stiers

My wife turned 32 last night in another epic S&M birthday bash. In fact, the party started the night before and really didn't stop until early this morning. 24 hours plus of good times. Pictures to come...

My wife is truly one of the most beautiful people I've ever met. From her picturesque smile and stunningly soulful eyes to her punky hair and sexy lips. But make no mistake, her beauty is not skin deep like mine. Misty gives of herself like few people I know. She's fiercely loyal to her friends and family and goes out of her way constantly to make people feel good. She makes me a better person, and as kick ass as my life was before I met her (and let me tell you it was!), it's infinitely better now with her in it. Life gets better everyday with her... I love you babe, here's to another 32 years of gett'n down with our bad selves!


Thursday, September 28, 2006


Relationships, I think, last because you choose for them to. It's not a moment of dislike that ends them - because moments are fleeting. It's not suddenly losing attraction or falling "out" of love. It's waking up every day and choosing who you want in your life. Choosing over and over to care, be concerned, be a part. Choosing to love, even when it's hard. Choosing to talk when you're tired; to mail the letter, cook the dinner, wash the dishes.

It's not easy, and as life runs along it only gets harder. The choice seems easy, seems a no-brainer; but the act of following through is ever so much harder. The evidence of the chosen. The act that commits.

I think about this a lot. People who are in my life despite my folly, but whose phone calls and emails help me through days we will never discuss. Moments that will fly by and be forgotten. People who make the choice to be in my life, to have me be in theirs. It's no small feeling. In fact, it's a really wonderful feeling.

The phone ringing in the middle of the day from one friend telling me I need to tell her a funny story pronto because the heat of the southwest and the baby sleeping in the car, air-conditioning full blast, are a deadly force to deal with on her own. Or the call at night, so I can lend support as she kills a scorpian, all the while me yelling I have no idea where you are - what if something goes wrong?! And us laughing later at the absurdity of it all.

Or picking up my voicemail to hear an impormptu song about a trip to the airport. Or my cubicle-mate bringing me big boxes of koala yummies from Queens for no reason, because once, I said they were my favorite.

I sit here looking at the walls surrounding my desk, of the notes and photos and knickknacks and I feel loved.

And I wonder, where is my follow-through. Do they know it? Is it evident what I have chosen? Do I give back to them hwat they shower me with?

I promise this year to make better choices. To make them loudly and clearly, and make you feel loved. Because you do so for me. Every. Day.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I don't have words today, I've written this entry three times now. It was a bad weekend, across the board. But no matter how bad things are; I can't help but feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

And I love him dearly.

Friday, September 22, 2006



That word is quite loaded, is it not? I use it quite often, to describe everything from someone's actions on the street, a delicious cheeseburger, to the sunset behind the skyline as we ride the train out to Shea.

Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

It's easy to say. It's easy to see. It's easy to point out, capture, put down on paper. But it's not so easy to hear. It's not so easy to look in the mirror and recognize. To look at your life, your actions, your accomplishments, and breathe in. In those moments the word grows bigger, more encompassing, more exclusive. It represents icons and sweeping movements and graceful gestures.

All things that in my mind never apply to me. They are too intangible, unattainable, unrecognizable. Which is why, a few weeks ago when one of my dearest and best friends (she says "you only need one" and I'm lucky for having a few, but I think, push comes to shove, she would undoubtedly be enough) told me she and her husband had played a game, had asked each other "Who is the most beautiful person you've met, that you know?" I was interested to hear her answer.

She is surrounded by beautiful people, both in physicality, and in spirit. People who make their livings from being beautiful in some respect. And others who are, well, good. You know the kind. Good. The kind you meet and you feel blessed for knowing; for being a part no matter how small in their lives because you know as they walk this earth, they're leaving goodness in their wake. She is one of those people. And she attracts them to her like fireflies.

I couldn't wait to hear who she had chosen. We share friendships with a lot of these people; in my mind I was already thinking of them all - wondering who had earned this small honor. But when she gave her answer I dismissed it immediately. I laughed at her. I couldn't keep talking with her about it. (Even though later Sam was utterly confused as I had ended it without finding out his curiosity - who did her husband say?!)

Her answer was me. She said I was the most beautiful person she knew.

And immediately I refused to believe that was possible. Couldn't be. She was just being nice. But, see, it's not possible for her to do that. *Just* be nice. It's in her nature to be honest, to be herself.

I didn't react like I should have. And while our conversation was only minutes long, it stuck with me.

After a while my heart filled with thanks to her. I wanted to hug her, to somehow let her know how this small game she told me about really made me feel . . .well, loved. Well-loved. But by then she was gone. Home. Far away. With wishes and promises to be back soon.

I don't think I would ever descrbe myself as beautiful. I don't see myself that way, and I have a hard time imagining that will ever change. I imagine that's what it's like for most of us. We're all little Olives. All baby fat, in our not quite so stylish clothes. Tugging at the hems and making faces in the mirror as we try to stand just right. Feeling a bit normal compared to those around us. A bit ordinary.

But every once in a while someone comes into our lives that doesn't just see the beauty, but brings it out in us. Makes us comfortable in our own skin. Sees us in that moment; not ten years ago, not when we met, not osme moment frozen in memory - but then, exactly. Every time. And finds in us a beauty we can't even see in ourselves. Makes us feel beautiful, and quiets the voice in our head that states otherwise.

She is one of those people for me. I am better when she is around. I smile more, I am more at ease. I try to be better, to be kinder, to be more. When she is around I feel closer to that person I hope to become. I see in her a lot of what I hope to be. She is, undoubtedly, the most wonderful and beautiful person I know. And I think it's a safe bet she always will be.

I don't know if that makes me the most beautiful person she knows. I'm pretty sure it doesn't still. But what I do know is she makes me feel like it. And really, there aren't words enough to thank her.

Or to tell her how very much she is missed.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Nimbus 2000 (and 6)

So Sam met me in the plaza and we walked to the Time Warner center and Columbus Circle. Landmarks to people from outside the city, and quite a few in - but places now I consider part of my home, my routine. As much as the Hen House I used to buy groceries at in Kansas City. Looking up from the sidewalk to see them towering as we walk I find myself a little amazed, once again, at my own life.

Sam is walking sam-pace and I'm mall-walking to keep pace. Right before we hit 55th street I notice I'm a little short of breath. I think to myself how stupid this errand is and I find my stomach churning with nerves. I'm a little short of breath after five blocks? They're going to laugh me out of the store.

We entered Time Warner and I remembered immediately why I chose this place for my errand. I had asked around at work and there were multiple places to get what I wanted, but I wanted to come here. It's filled with my favorite stuff. The first floor is all Williams-Sonoma where I browse slowly through the aisles, imagining what our home will be like someday, what meals I will fix, what special treats I will make for birthdays, anniversaries, Wednesdays. I love that everything has sets and matches. That the books are all big and filled with glossy photos. I dream of making such a book someday, filled with my creations. Of having a big kitchen in which I spend hours preparing feasts for those I love. Cooking is a symptom of home to me. I love walkign through there, imagining all the great Sunday mornings and weekday evenings still to come for us.

And then, we take the escalator upstairs - Borders greets us, large and looming. There are chairs and couches scattered about where people are reading freshly purchased books, or just enjoying the view out the park through the giant windows. I love this; that people gather to take in the beauty of the view. That they lounge about in this fancy shopping center, feet kicked up as they watch everyone else, as they count the trees and stare dreamily at the fountain.

We meander though all of them to the end of the walkway and immediately I want to run back to my books and my spatulas. To the couches and the view. This errand is making way more nervous than it should. But again, it plays directly on all the things I'm most anxious about. I remind myself as we walk in past all the fancy clothes and people that I'm here to make sure I am ending these feelings. That next time I come, I'll feel less self-conscious. Less out of place.

Less, well, less.

We make our way to the back and I stare at the giant wall of shoes. There's no one available to help us and part of me feels relieved at that. I think to myself that maybe we'll just look around and leave. Maybe tonight isn't a good time, and then I remember how much I don't want to do this twice. I wander over to a display of flip-flops and look at them until Sam reminds we why we're here.

"Maybe you should just look to see which ones you like think are pretty. Which ones you'd like the look of."

Sigh. I try to ignore the man dressed in full running regalia trying shoes on, and the two women discussing their preferences on styles of tread. I walk up to the shoes and am immediately overwhelmed. Can I pick a pair because they're orange? Green? How do I even start? Then I look at the prices and realize this is for real. I can't spend this money and not use them, give up. It's too much. Too much we don't have.

"Can I help you? You need some shoes?"

Dear lord. The part I dreaded most. Sam answers for me, and I confirm with, "I'm trying to learn to run and I need shoes."

The sales guy is awesome. He's not at all what I was prepared for. He's super laid back in jeans and a t-shirt, and he's very kind. I tell him he'd laugh if he knew how much I run now, and he immediately says, no, you're doing good! start slow - keep the pace. You're doing it right.

Which makes me possibly take my first real breath since we entered the store. I guess I half expected them to turn me away. Not take me seriously. Assume somehow I was not worth their time, not a "real" runner. But he didn't. He treated me as well, if not with more attention, then the ladies who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. Who ran. For reals. Not for minutes at a time on a treadmill.

He measured my feet and watched me as I ran down the aisle. He had me walk around and then examined the bottom of my shoes. He told me I was "stable." Which made Sam laugh a little more loudly than necessary. He then showed me six shoes to choose from to try.

He told me flat out I could pick the ones I thought were pretty.

I picked the orange ones, and green ones, and blue ones. The blue ones were called the "pegasus" which I liked the thought of. The green ones were quite pretty (I had pointed them out to Sam earlier) and the orange ones, were, well, orange.

I tried the green ones on first and he asked me about where they hit my arch and if the toe box felt okay. I looked at him like he had just spoken German. He smiled and said, it's okay. Walk around, try them out. And then he took me over to the treadmill to see how they felt when I ran. He started it out pretty slow and then said, “You are a runner! I'll pick up the pace so you can really try them out.”

I felt stupid, I felt silly. I felt for sure people could see me and tell I was doing it all wrong. But I tried anyway. And I decided the green ones weren't for me. I tried the other two on and after much hemming and hawing and much running about, one on each foot, I chose the orange ones.

The ones that were called the Nimbus. Like Harry Potter's broom.

They were the most expensive, but they felt the best. I told the sales guy I wanted to try to run a 5K in a year, maybe a half marathon someday, and he responded like it was the most normal and possible thing in the world.

I walked out, my birthday present to myself under my arm, a lot less anxious then when I came in. I can do this. I'm not so different than all those people in there. And next time I go in, I will be a runner.

It's the beginning of a new year for me. A year where I don't let the pain, or the nerves, or my own voice inside my head stop me from trying something new. And this is the first thing.

My first pair of running shoes. Real running shoes.

For next year. When I run my first 5K.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Labor Day, finally

So I totally missed recounting our Labor Day - which as full and wonderful. Leslie and Andy were in town, which meant we (luckily) got to spend the majority of our weekend with them, enjoying our fave parts of living in the city.

On Saturday we were supposed to go see the Coney Island Hurricanes play. (That's just for you, Les) but alas, it was tempest here. After spending most of the mornign saying out loud to anyone who would listen we would NOT be rained out, we got the confirmation that in fact we had.

Lots of sadness. Apparently, GOD wasn't listening at our proclamations. So, to make ourselves feel better we fought the rian for some Ben and Jerry's ice cream and then headed to Chevy's to kill some time while we waited for more friends to join us.

Yes, that's right, we spent the first half of our day just gong from one eating establishment to another. Perfect rainy day.

One of my fave things is just sitting around with Les and Andy and talking and hanging out. I miss them horribly now that they're not here, and being able to do justthat waqs awesome. And what better way then over margaritas?

After some mexican we headed to Dave and Busters where Les ruled the school. She played this giant crane machine game and cleaned up. Sam and Andy, of course, found a variety of games where they coudl shoot people, dear lord, TOGETHER - and we met up after an hour or so to trade in our tickets and head to the movies.
We saw Little Miss Sunshine, and while if you havent' seen it all I can say is go! go now!, it lacks description. It's the best movie I have seen in a very long time, and we had the perfect people with us to see it with.

The rest of the weekend was spent lounging about, walking the city, laughing and having an in general wonderful time. We even made a trip out to Dinosuar BBQ, which is posisbly the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

This entry is only the start. I have lots more to say, but alas, my time is crunched. See next week for my entry on how much I love those two crazy Florida kids and how lonely the city became the moment they left.

Weight of the World

" . . .But I feel like the world's getting lighter, I swear
And I feel I'm beginning to come up for air
And I feel if I reach for the crest of the wave
I will see every answer to every prayer

Take a step back, get off the track, contemplate the universe
World's a big ball, you're feeling small, we weren't even on it first
Don't lose control, you're feeling old, that'll only make it worse
Where you can't go on, and you can't go on,
and you can't go on, and you won't go on
And you reel...and you kneel...and you deal...and you heal

And I feel like the world is my oyster, my pearl
And I feel like my wings are becoming unfurled
And I feel when I'm not standing in my own way
I will see that I don't bear the weight of the world . . ."

Happy 320,love.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday the 12th

So today, overall was a good day.

1. I found out we won the business I helped pitch. Yay! And it's a great project, so much excitement, much merriment.

2. Sam and I went to see Groovelily play. Groovelily are an awesome fantastic beautifully put together rock/folk I don't know what band who also write musicals. Yep. And of course I love them. And Sam loved them, which made me extraordinarily happy.

3. I have decided I want to learn to play the fiddle. I don't know how or why, but I do. I decdied the figuring can come later.

Lastly, be happy for Sam, he's had some good days, too. Why?

I haven't had a voice for three days. His world has (mostly) been blissfully quiet of my incessant chatter.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A day to remember; A day I do not wish to relive

So it feels like it has to be acknowledged. Said out loud. But here, (and maybe there too), you can't get away from it. They've talked of it all weekend; there was no weather this morning. Just sadness. Grief. I turned the tv off, unable to keep the tears from automatically falling.

The weather, however, could not be more perfect, more clear, more beautiful. I passed a man on the way to work, just sitting in the sun with a smile on his face. It changed my whole morning.

I was not here, but this was already home. I didn't lose anyone, but the hours where that seemed a possiblility broke my heart. I cannot go down to lower manahattan, to where what's left, without my sunglasses on to hide my tears as we shuffle yet another family member/tourist past.

And I cannot write about it today. This year, in its wonder and joy, has made me all the more aware of what it would feel like to lose. To be lost. My heart can no longer bare such thoughts. It's enough I have them, enough that now the tears are falling yet again unprompted.

So I'm posting something I've already written. I find it as true right now as when I had first typed it out, so it seems okay. I'm hoping you understand.

I want to spin and spin in a crowded room, surrounded by friends. I want the music to be so loud we can't talk, but have to communicate with smiles and winks and absurd hand gestures.

I want my hair to fall in my face and have it brushed aside by his hand as he pulls me close as the music slows. I want to be able to lean into him and not have to worry about standing on my own. I want all my worries to be centered around where he'll put his hands when we dance, and where we'll go when they turn the lights back on.

I want all my friends in one place, safe and happy - filled with music and laughter.

I want our voices to be hoarse from yelling and our heads heavy from drink and adventure.

I want for my worries to be all about how we'll all manage to do this again in a few weeks. I want my future plans to only be concerned with thoughts of more music and close friends.

And where they sell good greasy food at four in the morning.

I want to sneak a cigarette at the bar as everyone else goes to check out the next floor of the club. I want bum a light and whisper conspiratorially as we hide in the corner, smoke coming out of our mouths and gin sloshing in our glasses.

I want to know once again, what it is to laugh until I cry. What it feels like when my cheeks are sore from smiling.

I don't want to know who our allies are. What country we plan on stomping through on our way to wage war. I want to stop counting those I know who are no longer here, but elsewhere in a sandy and strange desert. I don't want to turn the radio on in the morning wondering what the news will bring. I am tired of hearing the arguments and the rationalizations and reasons. I'm tired of the bright lights and complex systems.

I want to keep my loved ones close, in the darkness. I want us to dance until we can no longer stand, hold each other close and walk home. To a home that's safe, and right, and just.

I want midnight burritos and shots of tequila. I don't want these adult concerns and responsibilities.

I want peace.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Our Last Full Day in the Green

I apologize now for the length of this entry. But pictures! You said you loved them! :)

So our last day was a train ride across Ireland. We left Dublin early: like meet at the station at 6:15 early. This is when I discovered the fact that there are places in the world that make you PAY TO PEE. (I now, when referring to having to go to the ladies room say - "Gotta go pay thirty cents.")

I found this small fact so crazy, Sam took a picture.

After *that* amazing morning excitement, we met Tracy, Peter and John at the train. We climbed aboard and headed to Limerick, where we then got on a bus to take us to Bunratty Castle. It's one of the few castles built as a home, someplace people actually lived, and it was sort of awe striking how big it was . . .

It's right off the river Shannon, which was cool to see.

We got a tour of the castle, where I got to see an actual Sheela na Gig. She's a carving of a pagan goddess, referred to as the "sacred whore" or "divine" hag. They used to be found throughout Ireland, but the church destroyed most. Now there are only a few left, and it was cool to get to see one in person. She's a fertility symbol, as well is supposed to ward off evil. I touched her for the latter.

After our tour of the castle we wandered the grounds; a folk park with all kinds of small houses and such different people who worked for the castle would have lived in.

And, well, Sam pretended to draw his sword . . that pic's just for you, Ben.

We saw some cool stuff, not the least of which were these brilliant flowers.

I love this photo simply because right there? It looks like Sam is at Sean Thorton’s house in the Quiet Man. I know, I’m ridiculous.

After the castle we headed to Doolin and O'Connor's Pub - to eat, what is easily, The Best fish and chips ever.

Doolin is also where Sam bought me THE most beautiful Irish-knit sweater ever. I'm wearing it in the pictures I'll show you of the END of our night, since the weather this day was, yet again, perfect for us and I didn't need it. From Doolin we went to the Cliffs of Moher.

And, they were amazing. I'm not going to even try to find the words. And the photos don't even do it justice.

We took a BUNCH of photos, and next time I see you in person, I'll show you them all. It was really quite an amazing place. And dangerous too, by the signs. Which we did not take serious enough, obviously.

And just when we didn’t' think the landscape could get any more awesome, we headed to the Burren. In all the tourist stuff I read, it said the Burren had a "lunar-like landscape." And sire, on the way there we noticed it got quite a bit rockier . . but it wasn't til we got there that we understood.

The guide said, "It's as if the very ocean floor has been forced up." And, well, it was. It was crazy and beautiful and just, well, *wild.*

It ended up being one of our favorite stops.

From the Burren, we drove along the coast to Galway, City of the Tribes. It felt like everywhere we had gone that day I could have spent weeks at - and the city of Galway was definitely not excluded. We only had an hour so we walked through the main square and down a small pedestrian marketplace. Sam bought me a beautiful claddagh ring (they originated there) and our friend John got a hurling ball and stick.

We then stopped in a small pub for a pint. Of course.

We then, sadly, got back on the train and headed home to Dublin. You'd think our day (already 16 hours) would have wound down. But no! We were leaving the next day! There was more fun to be had!

Mainly the kind of fun that involves more drinking and supporting our favorite Irish celebrity, Bono. We headed straight from the train station to the Clarence Hotel, owned by U2. (Who alas were on tour and NOT there, but I wore my cute new Irish sweater *just in case.*)

We had high hopes for the Clarence and it did not disappoint. John and Sam continued with their love our all things Irish-Guinness and I had THE BEST tom collins ever. Ever people. And it's a sad admittance I've had A LOT of tom collinses. This? Hands down the yummiest.

We stayed 'til the night got too fuzzy and then walked our way to a SuperMac's to officially end our night. Nothing like the yumminess of Irish fast food to get you ready for a good night's sleep.

And then, before we knew it, we were on our way home.

I don't believe either of us were quite ready to be gone yet. But it was a wonderful trip. And on the way home, we began to plan our next one . . .

Friday, September 08, 2006

Just a Friday Night

I just wanted to take a time out of stories of Ireland to say once again, how lucky, how happy, how blessed I feel.

Today Sam called me from Shea stadium, giddy as a school boy about the stuff he was getting to do there and I had one of those moments. You know the ones. Where you are so happy for another person you feel like you might burst. And you look ahead, at the life that awaits you and you know that feeling won't go away anytime soon. That this is the kind of happiness that's for real. For ever.

I dont' know where we'll end up, what we'll end up doing, who we'll become as we grow. But I do know we'll be together, having adventures and laughing the whole way - much as we do now. I'll still get sick, still get tired - Sam will still tuck me in, hold me til I feel better. He'll still yell at the tv, get mad at the teams . . .I'll cook him his favorite dinners and we'll go for walks outside where we can go barefoot in the grass.

I love him. Something awful. And with all the wedding-craziness that has happened the last few weeks, all I cna continue to think is how lucky I am he chose me. How lucky I am every single morning when he chooses me again.

I had come to a time in my life where I had given up on the fairytale sort of love. The kind where you get butterflies and feel on top of the world. The kind that feels as if no one, no one coudl ever have a love like yours - it was too big, too precious. He changed all that. He hasn't just given me the world. He's changed it.

He took this picture in Ireland, promouncing aloud it was of his two favorite things in the country.

I'm going to do my best to live up to that. Now, and long after we go back.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A day of magic and kings

So John and Sam waited for me at the visitor's center while I made a trip to the ladies' room (conveniently located next to the jewelry where Sam bought me the most beautiful trinity knot pendant EVER). When I came out Sam immediately points to a sign on the bulletin board:

"On the evening before Easter, 433 AD, St. Patrick kindled a fire on Slaine Hill close to Tara. It seems like a simple and unobtrusive action to us now, but at the time it was equivalent to declaring war: a war on the Druids and their pagan beliefs and war against the King of Ireland. That small act of starting a fire was a turning point in St. Patrick's life and it marked the beginning of a new belief system for Ireland's native people."

I immediately made a face and held up a fist of rage at the sign. Laughing Sam said he told John that was exactly what I would do, and we consequently loaded up the car and headed to go see St. Patrick so I could go give him the what-for in person.

The drive was beautiful, of course, and as we approached Slaine, I couldn't help but be awed once again how Ireland was ever-so much more amazing than I had imagined.

We walked up the hill to ruins of a graveyard that seemed to be a combination of both ancient and recent gravestones, which as fascinating to me. Across the pathway from the graveyard was a castle, or fort of some sort, that strangely a group of boys were playing soccer in. At one point they lost their ball to a lookout tower and one had to scale a wall to retrieve it.

The first thing I did, of course, was have a little chat with St. Pat.

And then we climbed and explored the ruins, which while themselves were beautiful, offered up a pretty unrivaled view.

We eventually said goodbye to St. Patrick and the Hill of Slaine to find Tara, the legendary seat of the High Kings of Ireland.

"The hill of Tara is actually a low-lying ridge located half way between Navan and Dunshaughlin in Co. Meath, but it commands a stunning view of 40% of Ireland. Unfortunately, all that remains of the original site is the Dumha na nGiall (Mound of the Hostages) and a stone of destiny where druids still celebrate midsummer. Tara was also considered a gateway to the Otherworld and passage tombs dot the surrounding countryside. Many of these are considered the burial places of the Kings, and give the nickname, "Valley of the Kings", to the site."

We got to Tara just as dusk was falling and it really did seem magical. There was no one specific point that was "Tara", it was more a bunch of seemingly small things that collectively made the space. There were mounds across the fields (much smaller than Newgrange and Knowth, but still decent sized) and a few stone markers.

One mound, labeled The Mound of Hostages, had children playing a game of king of the mountain on it with their hurling equipment. There was a great commonality about the place, children playing, parents lolling about, tourists wandering and sheep grazing amongst all of it that made the area seem all the more ironic as the place where great kings gathered. Bit really, it seemed all the more wonderful to me it was all like that. There was a sort of beauty in the legend just existing without great fanfare.

Sam and I, of course, found a spot where it seemed the christians and pagans had set to vie for our attention. On the left, a giant Celtic cross with inscribing we couldn't quite make out. On the right, what I had assumed was a fertility symbol of some sort . . .

I later found out the right stone is a pillar stone known as Lia Fail, which is believed to be the inauguration stone for the Kings of Tara. Apparently legend has it that when the new king approaches you can hear bells. (In case you're wondering, neither Sam nor I are the new king.)

From Tara, we headed home on the small winding roads. We only had one traffic incident, where we met an oncoming car and got so close we had to push in our mirrors and I was sure we would topple on each other, both cars were on such a steep incline after scooching of the road onto the hill to make room . . .but we made it fine.

Our day, overall, was wonderful; filled with legends of thousands of years and the magic of generations of lifetimes. I love that our lives intersected with that for a while, even just for a day.

We went to sleep early this night, in preparation for our train trip west the next day. To the cliffs! To the city of the tribes! It seemed the excitement just never stopped . . .

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day Three: Boyne Valley

So the morning after the wedding we had a big Irish breakfast (meat meat and more meat with some meat on the side). And headed north to County Meath and the Boyne Valley.

This was, for all intents and purposes, the day aside from the wedding I was most excited about. I have wanted to see Newgrange for years now. Back when Sam and I only IM'd back and forth during the day, we would talk about where we someday would like to visit. It was so long ago these conversations were often framed around where he *or* I would go someday; not as a couple. This was a placve I foudn during those conversations, and I bookmarked it, in hopes of someday getting the chance to go.

The Boyne Valley holds quite a few ancient and legendary sites, not least of which was tops on my list: Newgrange.

I can't explain why, just that it seemed so mystical to me. So magical. I have, for over a decade now, marked my years by the sun and moon. Solstices and equinoxes always held special meaning. The solstices especially. And the thought that thousands of years ago there were a people who felt the same . . well, I wanted to stand where they stood. I'm not sure how else to describe it.

In case you don't know, here's some info on Brú na Bóinne:

"The Megalithic Passage Tombs of Newgrange, Knowth, Dowth, Fourknocks, Loughcrew and Tara are located in the present day County of Meath on the east coast of Ireland. The Boyne Valley Mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth were built around 3200BC making them older than Stonehenge in England and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

Judging from the splendour and magnificence of Newgrange and Knowth it is likely that these temples of the ancestors were places of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance, much as present day cathedrals are places of worship where dignitaries may be laid to rest."

I was, to say the least excited. Here's Sam and I on the bus from the Brú na Bóinne Visitor's Center to Knowth

And Knowth itself

Which, while from this angle might not look impressive, truly is. This was built before the wheel was invented, and the rocks used at the mounds are between one and ten tons. And they're from the mountains, miles away. That alone boggles my mind; not to mention how they're decorated. They are truly beautiful . . . and have lasted FIVE THOUSAND years . . .

They had a woodhenge, too, that was fascinating - and so old it put stonehenge to shame. (I have since made Sam promise someday when we have a little house on lots of land, we'll build one.)

But the best was getting to go into the mound and look down the passageway. It was breathtaking.

We then climbed to the top and looked out over the Boyne Valley. I can't put words to how happy I was.

And we were just getting started! From Knowth we then headed to Newgrange.

"The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built about 3200 BC. The kidney shaped mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones, some of which are richly decorated with megalithic art. The 19 metre long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb at Newgrange would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years.

The passage and chamber of Newgrange are illuminated by the winter solstice sunrise. A shaft of sunlight shines through the roof box over the entrance and penetrates the passage to light up the chamber.

Megalithic mounds such as Newgrange entered Irish mythology as sídhe or fairy mounds. Newgrange was said to be the home of Oenghus, the god of love. The Passage Tomb at Newgrange was re-discovered in 1699 by the removal of material for road building. A major excavation of Newgrange began in 1962; the original facade of sparkling white quartz was rebuilt using stone found at the site."

And, well, it's amazing.

We went inside, no pictures allowed, to witness how the sun lights up the chamber every solstice (they have set up lights inside to simulate it) - and the chamber was so very cool. It's beautiful, really. The stones are stacked beehive-like for at least ten feet above our head, with beautiful carvings all over them.

There was a crazy sense of peace there. We had time to walk all the way around the outside and wander along the lawn. The weather was perfect and beautiful.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and everything I had dreamed it would be in the years I had only imagined going. But the greatest thing was, we weren't done! We discovered on our way out that we were on a "Heritage Trail" and just miles from quite a few other amazing places. So we piled in the car and began a roadtrip through the small winding roads of Meath. . .