I could tell by the look on his face, the clerk thought I’d walked in to the wrong place to shop. I’d never been in a Hot Topic store before. I guess it showed. It’s the kind of place where young people shop; young people who like grungy, alternative things - mostly in black. With determination and faith-filled confidence, I forged ahead.
“Hey…” the clerk said as he peeked up over a huge stack of new merchandise. I could tell by his tone what he really meant, “Lady, do you know where you are?”
I fired back trying to act as cool as possible. “Hey, I need to buy a gift.” I told him. “I would like to buy a t-shirt. Do you have anything in black with skulls on it?”
“Sure do.” He said. “You’ve come to the right place, we’ve got a lot of that.”
“I need it in a large,” I said. “It’s going all the way to Ireland. It’s a gift for a young man I’ve never met before. His mom told me he loves heavy metal music and anything black with skulls on it would do just fine.”
“I think it’s perfect,” I told him. “I’ll take it.”
Little did I know, it really was the perfect gift… and I hadn’t even left for Ireland yet.
Early morning on September 16th my husband Roger and I, along with Traveling Squirrel, boarded a plane at Portland International Airport. We were headed for Dublin and had a few hours to kill in Philadelphia while we waited for our connecting flight. Wanting to experience some local fare, we set out to find a real Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. We had about two hours to kill so we took our time and shared our table in the very crowded bar with three sets of strangers. The first couple was actually from Salem, OR… where we live. They were an older couple on their way to Rome. The second couple was older too… they were from Vermont on their way to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in Paris. The third couple was from Ireland. She was a musician touring in Philadelphia for a couple of weeks. They gave us some traveling tips for driving in their country. We traded CDs and wished each other well.
And so the Mystic Map began to unfold. My dear friend Fr. George used to say, “Don’t forget to pack the Mystic Map.” That is the map to all the wonderful things you have not planned for; the experiences and divine appointments only God knows are headed your way.
After a six hour flight from Philadelphia to Dublin… we had arrived.
We signed the paperwork for the rental car and set out to find it. My level of anxiety about went through the roof when truth became reality. The steering wheel was on the right hand side of the car and you have to drive on the left side of the road. Wanting to save money, we rented a standard transmission. No problem for Roger because he drives a stick all the time. Only one thing different… the gear shift is in your left hand instead of your right. I knew we were off to a bad start when we both walked to the wrong sides of the car on our initial approach.
Driving took two people. I was a necessarily vocal-backseat driver, only from the front seat instead of the back. Downloading the map of Ireland before we left home was a great idea. The Garmin GPS lady did a pretty good job outside the city but often became confused in the heart of Dublin. Between her giving us bad directions and me reminding Roger to make his left turns “Hard left, hard left, HARD LEFT!” and his right turns “Wide right, wide right, WIDE RIGHT!” there was a lot of chatter in the car. All things considered, Roger did great and only once threatened to park the car and fly home immediately.
We did survive and we love each other even more today. (Isn’t that right, Roger?)