Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Junk Love: Gotta Get a Fix

I recently traveled to Ireland (sadly, without the other Blackbird). It is beautiful, despite the fact that they have been experiencing a "heat wave" resulting in days that were 78 degrees and breezy, with alternating hours of bright sunshine and melancholy mist. How did I even survive????

It was tougher than you would think. The trip didn't start out on the best note. I had to work a half day, and before I even changed into my comfiest pair of pants, learned that my travel companion (who shall remain nameless) did not have my plane ticket. So, we had to rush to the airport, wait in line, argue my way into a new ticket, and then...our flight was delayed.

Several hours later, we were running in the dead of night trying to make our next flight, which was on the complete opposite side of the airport. We made it, barely...

Only to discover upon landing that the airline lost our luggage. And we had to wait for a bus--not a tour bus, but a city bus--to drive us almost two hours to our hotel. Where our room wasn't ready. And our tour guide grabbed us as soon as we walked in the door to go on our first group excursion out in the city, wearing yesterday's clothes and a day and a half of travel grime. I thought we had reached rock bottom, until the next morning when I discovered that our hotel did not have complimentary conditioner. So, on the second day, I got to walk the city with a ginormous frizz-bomb, frightening store clerks, waitresses, and small children the whole way.

I was feeling a little desperate, a little jittery, and really (REALLY) cranky. I knew what I needed, and I kept a sharp lookout for it--that glorious word...ANTIQUES. The second I walked inside, calmness descended upon me like a cozy blanket. I was with junk, and it was all going to be okay.

I didn't buy anything, but it was interesting to see all of the stuff--things that I've never seen here. If you ever need a Victorian earwax picker, or maybe a carved cigarette holder holder (yes, a holder for a cigarette holder), then I know where to send you.

Back on the street, I was now a cheerful frizz-bomb, and possibly scarier because of it. I stopped for a delicious lunch at a street cafe, where I had a religious experience with warm goat cheese, and then window-shopped my way in the general direction of the tour bus. But, something was nagging me. There was a little buzzing in my ear. I felt a magnetic tug. And, instead of going straight toward the waiting bus, I suddenly turned down a side street, and then again onto an even narrower street. I had twenty minutes until the bus was going to leave me, but I just knew--and then, at the very end of the street, I saw the words Vintage Clothing painted on a window.

Inside, I was a maniac. I knew I was almost out of time. But even if it meant walking the ten miles back to the hotel, I was going to buy something in this store. I dug through drawers of scarves. I creeped out a cute guy who was trying on blazers with a sense of purpose (my hair seriously gave new meaning to a bad hair day). And then I found a rack with my very favorite word hanging above it: SALE.

I had five minutes to pull 5 vintage dresses, all marked down to 5 euro a piece, throw them at the clerk, shove a wad of money at her, and then book it to the bus (with a necessary stop at Butler's Chocolate Cafe on the way). By the time I got back to the hotel, I was in a whole new frame of mind, riding the junk buzz and sipping my delicious dark hot chocolate. This trip was going to be great!

And then I spent twelve days--TWELVE DAYS--without seeing another junk shop. I thought I was going to die. It wasn't until our second day in Dublin that I found salvation (in a church, no less). The tour guide was lecturing about regimental flags in St. Patrick's Cathedral, and I picked up a free map of the city, unfolded it, and saw the most beautiful words: ANTIQUES DISTRICT. My breath came quicker. I knew what I had to do.

So, when it was time for the group to move on to the next stop, I pulled the guide aside and informed her that I was leaving. And I took my new map and walked happily out the door, all by my lonesome.

Sadly, the antiques district has fallen on hard times. A lot of the shops were no longer in business, and it was a holiday weekend, so others had closed early. But, I went into the rest anyway. It was not my district, wallet-wise, but still nice to see so many exotic woods, Clarice Cliff, fine Victorian pieces, and more mahogany than I knew existed in the world. I felt better, but still incomplete.

So, I walked over to the Temple Bar district, a funky, artsy collection of shops, bars, and street performers. They were having a flea market, and I stopped at a table of books. There wasn't anything I needed, until I saw the binoculars. It was love at first sight, despite the fact that there is a tiny crack in the end of one eyepiece. Even better, the price tag said 15 euro. Just to be sure, I used them to watch people for a minute or so (my rule is to only buy the ones that are usable for spying).

I told the man that I'd like to buy them. He didn't seem on board with my idea for some reason.

Me: I'd like to buy these, please.
Him: (frowning) But they're damaged.
Me: I know. But I want to buy them.
Him: But they're damaged. And they're 15 euro.
Me: I know. I want them.
Him: (talking slowly, as if I'm mentally handicapped) But they are damaged.
Me: Here's 15 euro.
Him: No, you don't need these. They're damaged. And they're 15 euro. For damaged ones.
Me: Take the money and walk away, old man, BECAUSE I NEED THESE FRIGGIN' BINOCULARS!

Well, the last bit happened only in my head. I basically threw my 15 euro at him and walked away really fast with the binoculars cradled to my chest.

And it felt so good. The buzz was back. I had another lovely meal, went back to the hotel, and spent the next half hour looking at all the stuff in my hotel room (and out the window) that I could see with my new binoculars.

Once again, I had my fix. It is probably the only thing that kept me from committing murder as we traveled home--you know, customs, missing ticket (this time my travel companion didn't have one), and the airline losing our luggage AGAIN. Still, after I got home, and air-hugged my house, and slept in my very own bed, what was the first thing I wanted to do? Goodwill.

After all, a girl needs junk on a regular basis to feel human. Right?

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