He had the worst skin I’d ever seen, warty and black-spotted, pockmarked, red and purple-veined, the permanent damage of seventy-odd years of unwashed face and hard labor. But he was kind, which was what I needed from him then, and he loaded my bags into the back of the taxi and said “Don’t forget Ireland” as I got into the back seat. He waved goodbye like we were old friends, though we’d met only seconds earlier.
The taxi drivers were on strike, blocking roads wherever they could, blowing my turncoat driver with a barrage of horns and rude gestures as he maneuvered us toward the airport. It felt like a rebuke, Ireland’s anger at my flight, a final “fuck you” as I abandoned the home I’d tried to build there. Every horn was an accusation, a picture of one of my crimes, one of my failures, one of my miseries.
I pulled my bags from the trunk, two suitcases overstuffed with dashed hopes and overturned dreams, all that remained of the life I’d wanted. They were heavy.
There was a teary phone call to a good friend, another to my mother, “I’m coming home,” and an unanswered text to a former lover, and then I boarded the flight to home, to America, where the skies are big and I can breathe.