June 10th, 2015: I planned on spending my entire day being a nervous wreck. Not only was I about to embark on the biggest trip of my life, but it was also my first time EVER leaving the United States, and my first time EVER going on an airplane. I was terrified of planes—a trait inherited from family (call it a passing on of paranoia). Intrigued, yes, but terrified. The metal birds that were ingrained in my skull as purveyors of death still seemed so majestic to me—there was something almost soothing about them. I’d sometimes pretend, especially before falling asleep, that I was a passenger on a plane. I’d imagine myself waking up in another place, having safely landed as if I was never in air at all. This, I told myself, would be all I needed to do to get through the flight without any fear—just sleep comfortably through it and let my dreams carry me away. And with the flight leaving at 10:00 PM, that seemed more than doable. I was finally ready to face everything head-on: I was going to board an airplane, leave the country, and get married in Dublin.
A little backstory: My fiancé, John, and I had been engaged for about a year and half, with absolutely no movements toward our eventual nuptials. Not because we didn’t want to get married—quite the opposite—but because everything even vaguely wedding-related totally freaked us out. Friends gave me piles upon piles of wedding prep books, which would sit on the floor of my room, untouched. We talked about opening up Wedding Planning for Dummies, but we never really wanted to. We wanted to get married, but we wanted something that would be special for the two of us. We also were not the kind of people who plan things in advance; we’re both master procrastinators through and through. Finally, one February night, we came up with a brilliant plan: we’d get married on Bloomsday (June 16th, the day the events of James Joyce’s Ulysses take place), as we were both die-hard Joyce fans and literature enthusiasts—in Dublin. Just the two of us, and two of our dear friends as witnesses. Why not? It seemed almost too perfect—but how on earth could we pull this off in under six months?
People who plan weddings for years are suckers.
Sure, there were a few mini-heart attacks along the way and a number of run-ins with what seemed like the impossible, but positive thinking, determination and an unwillingness to accept “no” as an answer went a long way, and there we were, less than six months later, heading to the airport to make our wildest dream a reality.
Arriving at Newark I realized something: absolutely everything I knew about air travel I learned from Seinfeld. I knew how much to tip the luggage handler (an obsolete piece of information now) and that first-class was a whole different world from coach (true). We made it to the airport and through customs and security freakishly quickly. All that was left to do was wait—which, surprisingly, didn’t freak me out all that much. See, here’s the weird thing about me: I often worry more about the details leading up to a big event than the actual event itself. I’m likely to say no to something just out of fear of how I’ll deal with the stress around it, than fear of the unknown. Having gotten through airport security without any blips along the way made me much calmer. A few Old Fashioneds at the airport bar may have also contributed to that. Either way, I was ready to go and sleep soundly through my first flight.
It’s REALLY difficult to sleep on a plane. Whenever I imagined it as a child, I thought of how comfy Jerry looked with his pillow and blanket, snoozing away next to his new model friend in first-class. I never imagined myself in Elaine’s position in coach, wedged in between two people, with hardly any leg room, fighting for comfort. It was clear early on that sleep was not going to be an option. Fortunately, the young man sitting next to us was incredibly kind and we ended up chatting for most of the flight. The whole trip was smooth, and we made it safely to Dublin.
Our first night we stopped into a pub around the corner from our hotel. At the bar, a young man named Stephen (how appropriate, given the nature of our visit!) offered to give us a personal tour of Dublin nightlife—and we gladly took him up on the offer. Why not? Our first stop was “The Mezz,” a fun, low-key dive bar, in the tourist-riddled Temple Bar area. Our next few stops were fruitless, but wandering through the city at night more than made up for it. While the “pub crawl” may have been a bust, Stephen’s kindness, sense of humor and eagerness to show two American tourists a real, local tour of Dublin, peppered with bits of history and politics, were better than any bar.
The next few days were jam-packed with living out our literary dreams. We visited the James Joyce Centre and the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Standing in a recreation of the room Joyce wrote Finnegan’s Wake in, staring at Joyce’s death mask, getting to knock on the actual door from 7 Eccles Street, and touching Joyce’s piano were all positively surreal experiences. We also visited Ulysses Rare Books where, while we didn’t have €30,000 to spare on the first edition of Ulysses, we splurged on the 1947 hardcover Random House first edition (and a first edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick because, why not?).
Our “honeymoon” was nearing an end, though, as our wedding day was quickly approaching.
Murphy’s Law says that everything that can go wrong, will. I only believe that to be somewhat true. Sometimes almost everything will go wrong, save for that one thread of hope that you have to hang onto for dear life to survive. That’s what happened to us—from going down to the wire with our Catholic marriage forms, to cutting it much too close to getting our paperwork ready in the states, to a mistake in booking that almost lost our spot for getting our marriage registration in Dublin the day before we were to be wed, to a missing pair of pants the morning of the wedding—our entire love story was a comedy of errors. An almost tragic, yet comedic, love story—call it Joyce’s Law.
Remember what I said about being nervous about the minor details? Any sense of nervousness was completely washed away when I was walking up that aisle. The church was positively gorgeous—ornately decorated with multi-colored flowers to commemorate the 500th anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila. I was not, for the first time, a nervous wreck—there was no room for it when I realized that not only had we made our dreams come true, but that we were still living them. Everything that came before, saying yes to his proposal, yes to this trip. Everything that came after, the rounds of applause from passersby, Joyceans dressed in their Bloomsday best stopping for photos or to send us their regards, being serenaded and fawned over—it was all like reading a chapter from a book I’d never want to put down. I was never surer of anything in my life—and yes I said yes I will Yes.