Resources in my household are stretched thin, and some recent developments threaten to stretch them thinner yet. This means a planned (as in daydreamed about, but not actually booked) trip to the Emerald Isle will remain a dream deferred.
In preparation for said dream I read James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (yes, I’m bragging. Anyone who reads a dense 800+ page novel for pleasure and without receiving course credit or a cash prize deserves to brag), and I was looking forward to going on a Bloomsday walking tour of Dublin. Bloomsday, June 16, is the day when an entire city celebrates “Ulysses” by walking in the footsteps of the novel’s protagonist, a (kinda sorta) Jewish guy named Leopold Bloom.
Would my kids have enjoyed Bloomsday? Probably not. But because we are not going, I can pretend that they would have enjoyed it immensely. I can pretend that flying across the planet to trek across Dublin from restaurant, to pub, to museum, to pub, to library, to pub, to beach, to pub while discussing the finer points of the English language and the motif of the Jew as the ultimate “other” is an ideal activity for grade-schoolers.
I can also pretend that my waterslide-loving children would have welcomed the chance to “summer” in a country cold enough to require the wearing of scarves in July. In fact, my imagination is festooned with invented images of my children adoring tours of dank ancient castles, day trips to farms where they could put down their Nintendo controllers and pick up some cow udders, and white-knuckled drives along rocky, foreboding coastlines on the left side of the road. Plus, kids love pubs, right? And Irish music. All kids from LA love pubs and Irish music.
Because I am inordinately stupid (despite, ahem, having read “Ulysses”), I told my kids about our “plans” to go to Ireland months ago. Without so much as a plane ticket, I began dropping bits of tantalizing nuggets of information (Conde Nast says this one place in Killarney makes the best ice cream in the world!).
I have been a parent long enough to know better than to build up a child’s expectations. Life is full of disappointment, but parents shouldn’t be the primary source. So, when it became clear that our dream family vacation was going to remain a dream, I felt terrible. How was I going to break it to them that we aren’t, in fact, going to visit the ancient homeland of half their family? How would I tell them that they weren’t going to milk cows or see amazing sheep or walk in the footsteps of a fictional character from a book they won’t likely read for 15 years (if ever)?
As it turned out, nobody else was particularly crushed. My sons shrugged and my daughter’s exact words were, “OK. I don’t know why you wanted to go to Ireland so much anyway.”
Maybe someday we will make the trip to Erin, and, by then, maybe the kids will be more amped to be there. In the meantime, I returned “Ulysses” back to its formidable spot on the bookshelf and pulled down a few of my favorite Thomas Pynchon novels.
But just the ones set in L.A.
mayrav saar is based in los angeles and is a contributing writer to jlife magazine.