“Busted in Ballyvaughn”

Eleven years ago, I started to turn my life around economically. However, my romantic life was still facing the wrong direction. It took another year for the About Face of the Heart to take place, for me to realize that I’d spent the bulk of my twenties in a relationship that, while fine and good on many fronts, would never fully satisfy. It was too full of emotional landmines (whoops! Triggered another one!) and divergent goals. Even though Boyfriend Of My Twenties had moved to Minnesota with me, and I appreciated that act of solidarity, things had to change.

Thus, one decade ago this summer, I was mourning the demise of my six-year-relationship. And the break-up? It had been long and exhausting and had pretty much cut me off at the knees.

Metaphorically speaking. I mean, I still had calves and feet. C’mon. What’d you think? That I shuffle around on my patellas? Imagine the horrid scraping sound that would make.

At any rate, after wading through a fair amount of extended emotional upheaval, there I was. Thirty years old. Overweight. A mixture of really sad and strangely buoyant simultaneously–certain I’d never find genuine, healthy love at the same time I was glad that new, better, love was a possibility.

So I started exercising; lost a little weight; realized the beauty of feeling free.

And in response to all this? Deeply and profoundly, I knew it was time to start making my credit cards flex their personal-debt-inducing muscles. It was time to get my wounded soul a passport, mix it up with The Ladies, and take a trip.

And so I did, mixin’ it up, generationally, too. That summer, I spent three weeks scooting around Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man with my mom, her cousin, and one of my treasured girlfriends. Ranging in age from 30 to 61, we were dope, jiggy, and phat–ready to get down with the scones and the clotted cream. It wasn’t exactly dropping acid at Ozfest, but it would suffice as a heartmender.

We giddy four hit the 40 Shades of Green that make up the Irish landscape with all the enthusiasm and eagerness of, well, a leprechaun on acid at Ozfest. We saw castles. We listened to music. We got a puncture in our tyre, fixed by a lovely man named Michael (Honest to St. Patrick, his pre-adolescent daughter put on her saucy skirt and amused us with step-dancing while we waited).
We saw theatre. We ducked into Stone Age tombs.
We enjoyed an entire 15 minutes on the Isle of Skye (last ferry of the day arrived and soon after was departing). We stayed with my excellent Manx friend on the Isle of Man. We applauded a sheepherder and his border collies.
We spent some days in Edinburgh during the yearly Fringe Festival, marveling at the talent unleashed. We, my friends, had our scones.

In sum, we rocked it–me and my companions, The Mothers, in their modest, knee-length skirts, with their sensible walking shoes, tittering at the hint of a brogue.

Sure, we had our moments of stress. One morning I hopped on a train easily, wearing my backpack, and then turned to watch my mother and friend try to board, only to see their big suitcases get hung up on a stack of bikes just inside the train’s doors. As they futzed with their cases, trying to get through, the doors slid closed, and the train took off, leaving them standing, with very big eyes, on the platform. Ah, well, I mused. I guessed they’d catch up to me at the next stop. If not, I’d get back on a train heading the other direction and find them still standing there, trying to get their rolling suitcases to budge over a 100-year-old crack in the pavement. And traveling with a diabetic (my mom’s cousin) who used denial instead of insulin was stressful, as well. Every night, after dithering about being unable to check her blood sugar levels, she would order a huge dessert and then start holding forth at the dinner table in fairly mendacious fashion, telling stories that, if not completely untrue, were unfair and mind-boggling. It was only after we put her on a plane home–and she had a stroke within the next week–that we realized she may have been having a series of mini-strokes as we traveled.

But overall, the trip rejuvenated my dented self. In particular, one night in a little village named Ballyvaughn did this girl some good. We checked in to the hotel there and then headed down to have dinner in the pub. Soon after we started eating, a charming lad–that evening’s entertainment, in more ways than one–started setting up his microphone and guitar, chatting us up a bit as he worked. Amazingly, my mother and her cousin lasted through his first set or two before complaining of the ringing in their ears. Shortly thereafter, when Pub Stud took a break, he came over and suddenly transformed me into the star of my very own one-hour-television-drama by whispering to me, “Don’t go anywhere, now.”

Rooted to my bench, I sipped my pints until the last note died away. And only then did I go somewhere, in his car, to the beach, where I was reminded that there was life outside of that newly-departed six-year relationship, that I could still glimmer and shine, even at 30.

Naturally, while I was on the beach, doing my best impression of Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity at four in the morning, the fire alarm went off back at the hotel. Everyone scurried outside in their nighties and waited for the all-clear. And when my mom couldn’t find me, she started to fret. Luckily, before she could rouse the garda to start a search for my corpse, even though there was no fire at all, my galpal jumped in with a suitably-vague excuse: “Oh, I think she left the pub with some young people. I think they were going somewhere together.”

With that, me mum relaxed.

And out on the beach, with the crashing of the waves around me,

so did I.





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28 responses to “”

  1. Hammer Avatar

    That sounds like a hell of a trip!

    Leaving relatives on the platform? I would have had a stroke if that had happened to me!

  2. susan Avatar

    Oh my…if I were a Southern Girl I would be fanning myself.

    Part II?

  3. Shari Avatar

    (Banging my head)Why didn’t I think of that? Go overseas after a break-up!! Oh, yeah. One, I had no money. Two, I had a kid.

    I would love to go to Ireland and Scotland. (My maiden name’s Scottish.)

  4. Diana Avatar

    Awwwww. Beyond romantic!

    Sounds like all kinds of fate.

    (Wait. YOU know someone from the Isle of Mann? I know someone from the Isle of Mann. According to him (my friend), there are, like 1000 Manx in the world. I’m sure they know each other.)

  5. lime Avatar

    now THAT is a cure for a broken heart! damn, it almsot makes me wish for a broken heart just so i can justify the expense of a trip to ireland! faaaaabulous story!

  6. urban-urchin Avatar

    I love Ireland- land of half my people. Somehow I managed to forget that I have a fear of heights until an aged gentleman was hanging me upside down supported only by his liverspotted arms through a narrow hole that led to a 60ft drop to kiss the bloody Blarney stone. I almost pooped my pants as I chanted “please don’t drop me, please don’t drop me”.

    The music in the pubs is great and the fact that it’s a family affair is even better.

    You certainly know how to live Jocelyn- I really admire that about you.

  7. Dorky Dad Avatar
    Dorky Dad

    Wow, and I thought I had fun in Ireland.

  8. Diesel Avatar

    Small strokes do tend to liven up a trip.

    That sounds dirty, now that I think about it.

    Sorry I missed you in my shout-out. I had you in mind, but somehow you got left off the list. What can I say, I’m not detail oriented. Anyway, you’re there now, and you’ll definitely be in the drawing.

  9. velvet Avatar

    Sounds like that night on the beach was definitely the right kind of body work for those dents. 😉

    Sounds like a great trip aside from the mini-strokes and missed trains. Just the thing a broken heart needed.

  10. AmyTree Avatar

    Ooh-wee!! Quite a tale, that – AND you got to see some beautiful, er, natural phenomenon….

    I met a Pub Stud too. I married him!

  11. Jazz Avatar

    I wanna travel with you J. Let’s run away to Australia.

  12. Glamourpuss Avatar

    You’re rude.

    On a beach? I grew up next door to one and always found sand to find its way into the most unlikely places…


  13. Voyager Avatar

    That’s a great tale! With a very happy ending.
    My first boyfriend was Irish. I was 14. He taught me how to kiss, and he was good! Perhaps it’s some secret Irish skill.

  14. Logophile Avatar

    golly good gosh.
    WHat a great trip, and experience and wow.
    Mmmmm, lovely

  15. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    What a lovely story! Nobody spins a true yarn like our Jocelyn.

    When I was 22, I fell in love with a shipmate crossing the Atlantic who was from the Isle of Man. Oh, my. Just oh my.

    You are the perfect combination of romance and practicality, and if they figure out how to clone people, I hope they choose you.

  16. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    Wow. Intense and fun.

  17. Dan Avatar

    Clotted cream! I always marvelled at that name. As if the name itself tells what’s going to happen inside your arteries! 🙂

  18. Lizard Princess Avatar
    Lizard Princess

    Phew- you make-a me tired-a!

  19. CS Avatar

    I’m quite a bit older than you were then and stuck here in this country, but otherwise I can completely relate to this one right now.

  20. Keshi Avatar

    hellish ha!

    Love the last pic tho.


  21. mcewen Avatar

    How dare you!
    Oh, that’s what I was going to say on the subject of applesauce, and now you’ve distracted me with your post..
    I often think that if we could just live somewhere like the outer Hebrides, we could just escape the whole thing.
    There again, after this debacle, I need to consider more carefully.
    Best wishes

  22. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    Beautiful story.
    Sounds like pure rejuvenation!

  23. Karen Avatar

    Oh Jocelyn you saucy bird you! Getting a little Irish something-something. Nice. AND he’s a musician, makes it even more decadent.

    And thanks for stopping by the book blog. I have never seen a rat (other than pet rats) as Alberta is ‘rat free’ but that didn’t stop me from getting the heebie jeebies while reading “Rats”. shudder

  24. Rhea Avatar

    I love your line about the patellas. The rest of the post was good, too, but the patellas. That’s a winner.

  25. furiousBall Avatar

    I think David Lee Roth said it best in “I’m The One”…

    I’m the one the one you love
    Come on baby, show your love
    Hey, give it to me
    I see a glow that fills this room
    I see it rolling out of you
    Feed her your message from above
    I’m tellin’ you, ow
    Show, come on and show your love, ah, yeah
    (Show your love)
    Ow, woo, oh, show (show) show your love babe, ah, yeah
    (Show your…) Show it, ow

    Ow, woo, oh, show…never have truer words been…yeah, seemed funny at the time.

  26. tracey Avatar

    LOOK! SHEEP! I see sheep on Jocelyn’s blog!!!

    Um…I’m sorry, I got distracted. Did you have something else to say? And did you know I won a book from Diesel? Did you? I’m going to read it to my sheep….

    btw…nice to see blogger is eating photos at other people’s blogs, too. Not that it’s nice they’re disappearing, just that I’m not alone.

  27. frannie Avatar

    you little minx!

    good for you!

  28. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    Woo! Hot sizzling trip! “A Trip To Remember”! Did you ever hear from him or keep in touch?!

    How was/is your mom’s cousin?

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