We give ourselves that feel-good moment, and leave a few quid for the chambermaids tasked with speculating whether we were obliging guests or just allergic to personal hygiene. From the strange, we continue further South. So impaled am I on the thrill of the unfamiliar, my fella barely conceals his surprise that I’m Huggy Bear about an extra hour’s drive. One due to dismissal of my directions. Another hour on top of that wouldn’t bother me too much either. Some of us like driving to stand still. But he doesn’t need to know that.

To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure of the way either. We are both wearing that unbearable swagger that only fits when we’re so intent on proving our familiarity with places past, we over-estimate it. His is rumbled while mine is saved by an assertion the new one-way system is the culprit responsible for back-tracks into town. Then relief as the hotel façade juts in to view. There is no new one-way system.

I inform our wee one this is the place where her Dad and I got it together proper. Where the symphony of our getting-to-like-yous was composed. He points out all the stations of the courtship: the road we wobbled home drunk, the pub where we held hands, not forgetting the petrol pumps – the last pit-stop before his exit onto the motorway home. He laughs to himself at the memories of sadness he used to feel on departing.

Eight years on, it’s different but deeper. So the glossy mags and mid-day female panelists would have us believe. But I wouldn’t say no to another evening of exaggerating about being the outdoor-type, and wheeling out some of my better yarns for the first time for few of his guffaws. In the same way I don’t love our one any less just because I wouldn’t turn down a few nights with her as a new-born. We were lucky – she was a good sleeper as a nipper; and this town was a discreet, but lively, chaperone. I wonder aloud if less vibrant towns would have set us up as successfully, ignoring his middle-distance gaze. No need to nail it to the ground then.

I stand as a fellow tourist with the pair of them in the same spot where I stood as a new resident back then. We’re waiting on a makeshift train to bring us around the sights at a mortifying 20 miles per hour. Back then I was waiting on a coach-load eager to see what kind of place was designated for them to set up home. With no idea of how success was to be measured.

The tour-guide points out ancient ruins to our right, while I fixate on the shop to our left where young faces hoked through emblems and crests to see which fitted. On our left, another church flings its spire in the air three doors down from the health-centre where most of them registered in the days following their arrival. Around the corner one of the oldest graveyards in the country apologies for itself, and I shiver at the flashback of fruitless flat-hunting on the road adjacent.

Sentimentality is egging me on to begin another round of remember-whens. But I’ve no patience with it today. Or its inflated sense of entitlement, and obsession with converting transient feelings into something mawkish and manipulative. My inner steely tour-guide marches on, willing my resolve to keep hugging the present.

Coats hanging on the back of chairs, we clink glass. To the future. And all that. Whatever that is. The menu has changed.

“Are you ready to order?”

I look up directly into the brown eyes of one of those erstwhile fresh faces. Long grown out of the school blazer with at least another foot below her knees and I.. and I… and I…

14 thoughts on “Capitulation

  1. Haha. I read this and as I went to comment I almost began word for word as weebluebirdie did.
    I like your sentimental side. But yes as we look back we must also look forward. My gang are a good bit older than your little one so I know you have wonderful days to come.

    • Rumbled! Maybe. Or maybe not. Hehe. Let me see now, if we’re thinking of the same sunny south-east location, the road to Dublin was well on by then, but we only got to sample the road going the other direction this week. And I can’t say I missed that hazardous trek around umpteen corners. My purpose for setting up shack there was work. I’d go back in the morning. Or the middle of the night. Or the afternoon. I’m equal opportunity that way 🙂

  2. Pingback: 16 from ’16 | department of speculation

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