At Robinson’s

Tonight at Robinson’s just across from the Hotel Europa, we met a couple. Not just any couple, but star-crossed internet lovers who had met online only 3 weeks ago and had met in person tonight for the very first time. She was full of stories…her brother met William and Kate last week. He’d gotten to spend an hour with the royal couple, and “Believe you me,” she told me, “Kate is even more beautiful in person.” Then she squinted a bit beyond her vodka and Diet Cokes, and became my best friend ever with this comment, “You know what you look a bit, no quite a lot like Kate.” Ahaha, I wish, but I love this lady for her vodka goggled flattery.

The conversation got a little heavier when this lady, um, let’s call her Sallie, started talking about her family. Sallie is a Catholic who grew up in Belfast during the Troubles. She was 9 when the first hunger striker died. Sallie left for a smoke break and when she returned, she was a bit emotional, she leaned over and confidentially told us that her father had been murdered on the Westlink bridge. This bridge is not 200 yards or so from where we were sitting.  You’d never know it nowadays; we use that bridge everytime we go to the city center. Sallie says her father was killed for nothing more than being a Catholic.  The injustice of all this is just sickening. I can’t figure how people can treat people like that, and inflict so much suffering on each other. Sallie however insisted, “I don’t want, how do you say it, repercussions, all I want is peace.”

I hear stories like this all the time. Honestly, it makes feel so inadequate to my job. I can sympathize all day long, but I really have no idea what these people are feeling. I’ve never known that sort of pain or confusion. Truth be told, I hope I never do. This year I’ve learned so much about the importance of communication. I’m staggered and grateful that people have chosen to share their lives and stories with me. I just hope I’m doing right by them; it’s overwhelming sometimes.

Back to Sallie, well, she was having a jolly time. Her date, Dave, was even happier. Every time Sallie got up to smoke he would extol her virtues to us. It was sooo funny, but I can’t help but be impressed by their audacious, reckless approach to love and relationships. Sallie has experienced so much, she’s a single mother of 5, and she may have been the better (or worse) for vodka Diet Cokes with Coors Light chasers, but she has let go of so much pain and was putting herself entirely on the line for a crazy shot at love. Cheers to you Sallie, I can’t say I’ve ever had your sort of guts.

Pretty light after a wee afternoon shower.

We call these Belfast tusks. The first two appeared at Christmas time, and since then its been a veritable bumper crop of tusks.

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