(The End but also The Beginning)
A tsunami of joy washed over me as I walked up to the rental desk and handed in my car key. It was a delicious feeling of freedom, as palpable as any escape from prison, I suspect.
The gentleman on duty cast a swift glance over Clio’s body and matter-of-factly assessed the damage: one dislodged side strip, one missing hubcap. He was unfazed by the booboos. My out-of-pocket cost? Fifty dollars! As I reached into my wallet to pay the piper he said casually, like he was reporting the weather, that I had gotten off easy, that I would not BELIEVE the cars coming back and the extent of their damage.
I was stunned.
Our flight to the States waited on the tarmac as we crowded onto a transport wagon to take us from the terminal to the plane. Hesitantly, people began talking about their trips in hushed voices. A trickle then a tidal wave of stories emerged, recounting the various driving nightmares that had been encountered. All along, I thought it was just me, that I was a bad driver, inadequate, easily spooked, a silly young woman ill-prepared, but all these people, including grown men, as if in confessional, unburdened themselves of their shame, anxiety, trauma, and embarrassment. I boarded the plane marveling at my good fortune: my experiences had not been so bad after all!
Touring Ireland taught me so much. To confront fear, refuse to give up, enjoy the unexpected gifts that appear along the way, and trust that we can make it through anything unscathed, even if slightly ego-battered, to tell the tale.
This was one of the greatest lessons of my life.