Last week went out with a weird twist — on the same day I set up two house viewings, had the best pho of my life, went on a date I wasn’t aware was a date, and rode home to the hostel on a new old bike. Friday was a day that makes for very good stories.
After an entire day of house hunting, I had two solid leads. I set-up viewings for a place in Clonskeagh on Tuesday and one in Leopardstown on Wednesday. Needing a serious break, I met Alex at his hostel and we set out to get dinner at a place called Pho Ta in Temple Bar. Despite being the tourist center of the city, I’ve now had two extremely solid meals in the Temple Bar area. I thought I had had some good pho in Baltimore, but this place blew those soups out of the water. I had the rare beef and it was perfect. The meat was slightly pink, flavorful broth — I hardly had to add anything. I don’t consider myself a foodie by any means, but I know when something is just damn good, and this was.
The guy at the hostel who had been helping me and who I thought was going to make for a really good friend here in Dublin had invited me out to a comedy show at a place just across the O’Connell St bridge called the Laughter Lounge. So after dinner, Alex and I parted ways and I walked to meet him. The humor was Irish and raucous, except for the two American acts which were apparently anomalies. Afterward we left the club for the pub next door and as the drinks were flowing the truth of the evening came out. He expressed his attraction to me and more or less demanded an answer — in the affirmative or negative, it apparently didn’t matter to him as long as he knew. I had the strange feeling I was drinking him under the table and wasn’t feeling as blunt as I do when I’m three sheets. So, I crafted some noncommittal response about not knowing him that well, thinking we would be good friends, etc. At this point, he got up to go to the bathroom and I shot a rescue text to Alex. He told me to tell him where to come meet us. I wasn’t sure what the name of the pub was so when K came back from the jacks, I told him my friend was going to come meet us and asked what the place was called.
Of course, he didn’t like this one bit. Go to him, he said. I don’t want to be the third wheel, he said. At this point, I flat out said I wasn’t under the impression this was a date initially, and it would just be three friends hanging out. Ultimately, exhausted from the arguing, I texted Alex and told him I would try to meet him afterward. Things were getting weird.
After awhile, we left the pub and I was pondering my escape. He asked if I wanted to go for a walk and we ended up on a bench where not surprisingly he tried to kiss me. I was feeling pretty tipsy now and maybe a little aggressive (as can happen) so I kind of let him have it. I don’t exactly remember the shouting that was happening but for his defense he pulled out the, “I’ve helped you so much, I bought your ticket tonight,” and the typical male responses that point out how I clearly owe him for all the generosity I didn’t ask for. During this exchange, I happened to look over. There, not but 3 feet from me, leaning up against the side of the wall overlooking the Liffey was a rather sad and rickety looking blue bike. I went over to it, kicked the tires and looked it over. I noticed the chain had come off the track so I put it back on and set out on a test drive. It wasn’t long before the chain came off and I grinded to a stop. A passerby was watching this so I waved him over and asked if he knew anything about bike repair. Miraculously, he did and fixed the chain and in less than a minute I was cruising around. The left brake was frayed and disconnected, tires needed some air, and the frame had certainly seen better days — this bike had clearly been abandoned. In Baltimore, stolen bikes get discarded once their purpose has been served. Who knows where this bike belonged, but all I knew was, it was my getaway car. I told K it was all drunken miscommunication and rode away into the night.
That first ride back to the hostel had me smiling like a fiend, flying down O’Connell St, the wrong way up one-way streets. I’m not even sure if I was on the correct side, but at that hour, hardly any cars were on the road. When I got back into the hostel, I wheeled it inside and the night porter looked at me curiously.
“I bought this bike today and need somewhere to store it.”
“You bought that? You actually paid for that?!”
I didn’t want to explain how I had acquired it because the story would’ve sounded really shady, so despite his incredulity at how anyone would possibly pay for a bike in such a state, he led me into a back room where I stored it under the stairs. As we walked away, I told him not to steal it. His response was great: “That’s shite! No one would want to steal that!”
Friday was a lot of things, but through the good, the bad, and the awkward, I feel like I’m closer to making a home here. My many doubts from my first day have all but become distant memories. This is where I’m supposed to be.