Sitting on the beach at Enniscrone, a few of us on towels, most just on the chill, damp sand, but the fire and his words cut through the cool of the evening and the exhaustion of our day at the sea. They had taken us all here, so far away, to get us out of the city for two nights, into the quiet. "They need quiet and they need to hear other sounds," Thomas and I had heard Father Timothy say and maybe it was a measure of our world back then that we had not the foggiest idea of what he meant.
But we went. Twenty-three of us jammed into four cars with the Priest and three fathers, leaving when it was still full dark, so dark that we did not see the day begin until we were far into the Donegal hills. And we came to the beach, I had not seen the beach since I was a much smaller one. And the sea - oh the sea - spreading out forever and beyond even that with the sun streaking across distant waves.
And now, that night, he told us stories of America. He had played, of course, for the Rovers down in Dublin, and that made him famous enough and made me the envy of many. But now he told us of his year in the States. Of the summer that the team went to Boston to be the "Boston Rovers" and play in New York and Detroit, in Los Angeles and Chicago and even Texas. These were all the most magical places we could conjure, and he described them all so well that we kept looking out across the dark and expecting to see the towers of Manhattan lighting the farthest horizon.
Then, as we slid toward sleep, he told us how the sea was different in America. "You see how the sea rolls in here," and we all nodded as the sparks flicked off the logs and raced toward heaven. "Well that ocean begins in America. The waves roll out from the shore, heading this way." Nothing could possibly have meant more to us at that moment, and that night, we did finally dream different dreams.
Today I stood on this western shore of the Atlantic. I heard the sound, and smelled the salt and looked deep into the distance before I would look at the point where this primal source meets the land. For I am still surprised - yes - always suprised that the waves here do not move as I have always seen them when I close my eyes.
copyright 2006 by Ira Socol
photo of Enniscrone from the Dublin University Surfing and BodyBoarding Club