We rode bicycles through the clear early morning air to Dun Ducathair. Our innkeeper warned us that the day trippers would rush to the more famous Dun Aonghasa as they hurried to visit “the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe” before the ferry departed for Doolin or Galway Bay. Having visited both Duns in the space of a day, I submit that if faced with a choice, you should abandon your ferry, your friends, and your guidebook and walk the many miles over rough karst boundary markers to Dun Ducathair, the Black Fort.
There are high fences there now, but when I was little the chainlink only reached a foot above my head. My dad would pick me up and we would gaze at the manmade waterfall in awe. I never feared falling into those depths since I wanted to badly to explore them. When I was a teenager I scooted under the fence and wandered along above the falls and under the road but not too far as it’s a busy road and a small enough town that someone would have recognized me and call my parents, my pastor, or both.
By night’s end I encountered someone special who I’ll never see again. I’d tell you her name but I never knew it. That’s okay. She barely knew mine and may never remember it. Chances are our paths will never cross again. She gave me a gift that night, though, and I am grateful.
She sits, as she so often does, on the floor of my living room with her legs curled beneath her. We all like the room dark, simple candles shedding their warm light, wisps of fading sunlight washing through the balcony door high above us.
Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio straddle the Rio Grande. Del Rio, a city in Texas, is a sleepy, dusty town plucked from any number of films set in sleepy, dusty Texas towns. A 200-foot bridge spans the wandering Rio Grande into Ciudad Acuña. Were it not for the border guards and stepwise transition of signs from English to Spanish, you couldn’t tell the cities apart.
We wake early. It happens these days regardless of how late the nights runs or the previous day’s toil. Waking at 0500 for three years retrains the brain and body. This morning was a luxurious 0630. We lay in bed for a few minutes. The ocean rolls into us. Only a white beach and a window stand guard. I have, could, will easily walk to it this week. We’ve taken a rare week and trip to ourselves.
I picture my audience, my imaginary lover. What do I want to do for them tonight? Do I want to give her exactly what she wants? Do I want to impress him? I go for impressive. I will build something on the precipice of their comfort zone. Something they don’t yet know they want.
It is the kind of line that sparks an ember in the mind and heart of those with a bent for writing. It’s the kind of line that haunts you for the rest of your days, hundreds of books and thousands of pages later, when someone asks what your favorite opening line might be. Easy choice.