THE PARENT FILES: BACK IN THE USA
From our home in Davis, my son and I drove to Oakland, parked the car in a lot outside the airport, took a shuttle bus to the terminal and flew to Phoenix where we connected with a flight to Philadelphia, where we connected with a flight to Dublin, Ireland, where we took a cab to the Heuston Railway station, where we ate breakfast and drank a half pint of Guinness – my son’s first “legal beer” (he is 19).
From Dublin we took a train to Galway, where we checked into the Eyrie Square Hotel, which is a about fifty yards from my favorite pub in the entire world, An Pucan, where we ate lunch and drank a pint of Smythwick. I showed my son the university, the cathedral, the Latin Quarter.
The next morning, we took the train back to Dublin and spent two days that included: touring the tombs of St. Michan (my son touched the Crusader’s hand); eating and drinking at the Brazen Head; walking up and down O’Connell Street; visiting the only Greek Orthodox church in Dublin (a tiny thing next to a prison that housed sex offenders); visiting an exclusive (two bouncers at the door) pool/snooker hall (more interesting than it sounds) owned by former clients (Russian); touring the Guinness brewery (incredible fun); and viewing the Book of Kells at Trinity (mandatory).
Flew from Dublin to London and spent two days devoted primarily to the dead, i.e. visiting with Jeremy Bentham, Karl Marx and all those dead poets in Westminster Abby. Also met up with my oldest friend, Joseph, for dinner, amazing conversation and much wandering through central London late at night.
Then flew from London to Paris where I rented a car, drove to Caen, checked into a hotel and then drove north to the coast then east past all the allied beaches (filled with British vacationers) to Omaha Beach (virtually deserted) to commune with the ghosts that will forever haunt that beautiful expanse of tan sand.
The next day we drove back to Paris – stopping in Versailles along the way – checked into a hotel near CDG, and then went into Paris to walk under the Eifel Tower and otherwise wander around stopping at cafes to spend huge money for small drinks and to sit and watch the foot traffic – composed primarily of Italian and German tourists.
The next day we flew back the same way we came, except that bad weather stranded our plane on the tarmac in Philadelphia, causing us to miss our connecting flight in Phoenix, causing us to spend the night there (incredibly hot even before dawn) and fly the rest of the way back to California the next morning.
So here we are, back where we started. I am seven pounds heavier.
The highlight of the trip was seeing Douglas Adams’ grave. We traveled to Highgate Cemetery to see Karl Marx’s tomb “towering over” Edmund Spencer’s much more modest tomb.
Since my son intends on studying political science, I thought he aught to see where these two contemporaries were laid to rest (Marx was laid to rest twice: once when he died and the second time in the 1950’s when he was dug up by some of his fans and relocated to a more fashionable part of the cemetery).
But as we were walking down the path to Marx’s tomb, my son called to me and pointed to a small, gravestone off to the side. Pens had been pushed into the soil on top of the grave. The tombstone read:
My son and I added a pen to those marking Mr. Adams’ resting place. My son placed it there himself.
I found out about an hour ago that Michael Faraday is also buried there. And I missed paying my respects. I deeply regret that.
But other than that, it was a wonderful experience, and likely one that will not be repeated. My son is off to college, far away, in 10 days, and thus begins a new chapter in our lives.
I am glad he touched the crusader’s hand. For luck. I did it when I was one year younger than him and on my own for the first time in my life, and I have been very, very lucky ever since.