I boarded the Dublin to Galway train at 735 am in a haze, having spent the night in a not-quite-comfortable-enough-to-sleep chair flying across the Atlantic. My body was telling me that it was really 235 in the morning and it had been up all night and all it wanted to do was sleep. Desperately. I would not arrive to my destination till 11, so the thought of a couple hours’ snooze on the train was nearly intoxicating. However, the train was just pulling away from the station when I heard her voice. Indeed, I did not know that a voice with that endearing Irish accent could also be so irritating. Add to that, her voice carried so well, that even though she was across the aisle and down from my husband and myself by one row, she may as well have been right in my face. This lady was loud. But surely, things would settle down, for how long could she talk about the weather with the elderly man who happened to sit next to her?
The weather transitioned into her summer vacations with her children in Mayo and then where each of her two sons are now after her raising them and the peculiar-colored alcoholic beverages they keep on the top of their fridges and one’s trip to Japan and the other’s house which they financed for him from the money her husband received after being hit by a car but he would have gotten more had the police officer not been so young and the driver not such a good-looking young girl and this transitioned somehow to her favorite place to buy beef versus where to get the best deal on paper products and then a bit about Trump and another long one about her brother who became a bit of a hermit after having inherited the family farm but the table where her mother fed them all on their summer holidays is still in that kitchen. There were bits about the price of rail travel in America and her cancer treatments ten years ago and……
Somewhere around Kildare I dug out the ear plugs Aer Lingus had supplied to me for my flight, but they did nothing at all to diminish this woman’s voice. It tore right through them. Around Tullamore, I gave up on sleeping and took out my book. But her voice wedged between me and the words on the page, and I was having to read each sentence two or three times in order to understand it. By Clara, I had surrendered, closing my eyes in pretend sleep, exasperated. We were to change trains in Athlone, as our destination was Westport, so the second half of the journey promised some sleep.
But she changed trains in Athlone as well, and not only did she get on the same carriage as we did, but took the same seat down one row across the aisle from us…..and continued her soliloquy with the man sitting across from her now. You can’t make this stuff up.
It was around Roscommon that my husband of 40 years began to lovingly gaze into my eyes, squeeze my hand, and tell me how much he loved me. I think he was suffering from disturbing hallucinations of what life would be like with this woman. Then around Castlerea the carriage had some empty seats about eight rows away. We had a lot of luggage as our stay in Ireland is for five or six weeks, so moving it all would be a hassle, and too obvious for my husband who is a quintessential gentleman. But I scooted away down the aisle, only to see her rise at Manulla Junction, where travelers disembark to change trains for Ballina. I can almost visualize the poor man in Ballina who is married to her sister. He is listening to this woman now- sitting at their kitchen table over a pot of tea. It is going to be a long week for that man.
We reached our destination shortly after her disembarking. Since checking into our hotel, my husband has been treating me like I am some sort of princess. I don’t know how long this will last, but I am not saying a word.