Éirinn go brách

Ever since I can remember I’ve always been in love with all things Ireland. For the last two days I’ve searched my memories, wondering why. Why am I so fascinated with a country to which I’ve never been?

Surely, my dad is responsible for the influence. Before the Red Sox finally won the championship after seven or so decades, people used to ask me why a Southern girl like me could be so hopelessly in love with a team from “up there,” Boston. My dad loved Boston, and therefore so do I.

I always hoped I could take my father to a Red Sox game. I doubted he’d ever make it to Fenway, but I crossed my fingers for Atlanta. It never happened. When I was pregnant with Michael, I traveled to Boston just about this same time of year, determined to put my feet into Fenway Park, not for me but for my dad. I was determined to do whatever it took.

The first time the security guards kicked me out. This was for my dad.  I couldn’t travel all the way from Tennessee just to be told no. I was going in. If being arrested were part of the deal, so be it. But instead I pleaded with the security guard, and he let me in, and I got to see that glorious Green Monster. I stood in away and took in every detail so I could bring it home to my dad.

There is so much Irish influence in Boston. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to Ireland.

I remember planning a week in advance what I would wear to school on St. Patrick’s Day—the holiday of my people. I was determined, even as an elementary school kid, that I was Irish. The funny thing is that’s exactly what my son Michael did when he was in elementary school. He told all of his friends he was Irish. He would come home and tell me his buddies all commented on his Irish brogue, which, by far, does not exist. His Southern drawl is as Southern as they come.

I’m not embellishing the truth. Irish blood does run through my veins. My great-grandmother Clancy’s parents were born in Ireland. But I also have roots in Denmark. My other great-grandmother immigrated from there.

I think all writers need a magical place that fuels their imagination. For me, that place is Ireland. My favorite place to write a couple of years ago was a coffee house called the Celtic Cup in a nearby town. I used to take my laptop and sip on a peppermint mocha while Irish music and lush Irish scenery played on the flat screen hanging near my table.

And at Christmas a group of local musicians asked me to play Celtic Christmas music with them. I’m not so great at guitar, but I loved the music. I was enchanted by it, moved by it.

I’ve always dreamed of going to Ireland, but I never really believed I would. I am afraid of heights. Therefore, I am afraid of flying. (To be more exact, I’m afraid of falling, crashing.) Therefore, I could never imagine myself on an airplane.

Oh, it’s not like I haven’t flown before. My dad worked with a man who had his pilot’s license, and he took us up in his tiny little four-seater plane. The ride was miserable. My parents kept saying, “Why don’t you look down? Look down. You’re scared, aren’t you. Look at her.” Then they laughed.

I don’t think I would have been so nervous about the whole ordeal if they hadn’t been telling me how afraid I was. Plus, the guy who was flying us failed his motorcycle test on multiple occasions. You tell me? Wouldn’t you have been a bit unnerved?

And for years, I have felt it is just not Biblical to fly in a plane. If God wanted me to fly, we would have given me wings. Right? There’s scripture to back me up—Matthew 28:20. “Lo, I am with you.” It doesn’t say anything about being up there among the clouds.

But times have changed.

I have decided that one day I will go to Ireland, even if it requires strong drink or heavy medication. I will board that plane.

Ireland is like a magnet that just pulls me toward it. Maybe it’s my destiny. But if I ever do go there, I’m not sure I’ll ever come back.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!
~ Irish Blessing

Why I’m a sucker for Serendipity

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day coming up, I am paying homage to my favorite of all favorite romantic movies, Serendipity. Ever wonder how I came up with the name for the blog? Now you know.

It’s hard to believe the movie came out in 2001. What? Ten years ago? A lot can happen in ten years. John Cusack is my favorite actor, and I haven’t seen him in anything else that compares to this film. His co-star, Kate Beckinsale, is, of course, amazing, and her sidekick, Eve, played by Molly Shannon, is the nutty best friend we all wish we had.

This movie is simply magical. The dialogue is snappy, and the cast of supporting characters compliment the co-stars while taking the audience on a emotional roller coaster ride that runs the gamut of feeling—regret, remorse, pity, anger, romantic tension, humor, heartache, relief.

Wow, I wish I’d written the screenplay.

But what is it that makes the movie so magical?

I think it’s the message that what is meant to be will be, no matter what. Everyone likes a happy ending, right? Especially when we’re living in a world with so few happy endings. The movie provides a sense of hope and fulfillment.

Here are my Top Five Reasons why Serendipity is my all-time favorite.

1. The word serendipity–my FAVORITE word in the whole world. Why? Because the definition of serendipity refers to “the accidental discovery of something pleasant, valuable, or useful.” Life has lost its wonder if there is no hope. Serendipity implies a sense of adventure, the feeling that something wonderful could be waiting around the corner. When I was a little kid, I believed I would find the leprechaun and his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch him.

2. John Cusack stars in the movie. What’s so great about John Cusack? He has attitude. He’s a romantic. He’s a blogger. He’s into kickboxing. He’s a baseball fan (but he likes the White Sox). He’s obviously not perfect, but he’s got potential.

3. One of the best scenes in the movie takes place in the little restaurant called Serendipity, famous for its “Frozen Hot Chocolate.” The only thing that would have made it better is if it were a coffee shop, but it’s close enough for … me. The real restuarant is in Manhattan.

4. There’s a literary element to the movie with the Shakespearean twists. The couple part ways but not before placing their love in the hands of fate. They write their contact info on a $5 bill and in the front of a book, Love in the Time of Cholera, a real novel written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and published by Alfred A. Knopf. (A bit of movie trivia—the $5 bill is a 1999 bill, but the movie is supposed to have taken place in 1994.)

5. There is a reference to music. John Corbett plays Lars Hammond, the new age musician boyfriend of Sara. Lars is too adorable to dislike, and the fact that he follows Sara and spends hours outside her hotel door is incredibly sweet. I’m sure Lars will find his special someone too. But Jon and Sara belong together. Sorry Lars. Good guy, just the wrong guy. (I’ve been a huge fan of John Corbett since his Northern Exposure days. This is MY list of reasons, so I can also add that John Corbett recorded the country song “Good to Go,” co-written by one of my favorite songwriters, Rodney Clawson. Six degrees of separation?)

What’s your favorite romantic movie or love story? I hope Cupid tickles your heart this Valentine’s Day.