Tuesday, June 6, 2017

St Mary's Lane, Cork, Ireland (2008)


One night in 2008 I met a man on these stairs. I lived in Galway then and had made the four-hour bus journey back to Cork to spend the weekend with my friends.

It was after midnight and I was walking back to my friend's house, alone and buzzed from a few pints of beer and not at all concerned for my safety. As I walked up the unlit St Mary's Lane that connected Lower John Street to Upper John Street, I saw the shadowy outline of a person standing halfway up the stairs, on the other side of the railing, on his own personal platform.

He was slightly hunched over, a child's inflatable guitar clamped under one arm, trying to roll a joint. He looked up and we both paused.

Finally, I said, "Nice axe."

He laughed and gave it a squeeze, eliciting a pre-loaded jingle and several keys lit up.

He was Irish but not from Cork. He told me his name but I don't remember it. He was at a party but had ducked out for a few minutes of quiet. He offered me the joint and I took it.

We stood there in the dark laneway, sharing his platform off to the left of the stairs, talking and laughing and moving closer together with each pass of the joint, and I remember thinking how perfect the moment was. How wild life was, that I could be away from home on the other side of the world, totally alone, with a new circle of friends who had known me for not even a year, and how life could be so incredibly lonely but one turn down a dark alley could lead to one of those perfect moments when you're hit with the clarity of how perfect the moment was while you were still in it.*

He handed the joint back to me, our hands brushing and our heads so close together they were almost touching. We were going to kiss. I could smell the beer on his breath. He asked "So how about a kiss" and the bubble burst.

"Don't ruin it," I sighed. I picked up my bag, continued up the stairs and turned left onto Upper John Street and toward my friend's house.

*The weed hit hard and fast.