Friday, 9 September 2011

Hello, goodbye, part two, and the red duck in my eye

September 9, 2011

More comings and goings this week ... today we said goodbye to Karen and Glenn from Cornwall, Ontario, who have been here for two weeks. In that short time they made their way into the hearts of everyone with their contributions to the community and the way they jumped in with whatever needed to be done. Karen is also a musician, and to my (and the centre’s) delight, she also bought a guitar to play while here, and to leave behind. Many of the nights she was here she had a crowd of young people around her as she taught guitar chords and rhythms.

We also said goodbye to Teri today. Teri arrived three weeks before me, from Arizona, and left today to teach for a year at Sabanci University in Istanbul. Teri quickly found her place in the Corrymeela Community, and into the hearts of all – offering pastoral support, driving folks hither and yon, offering workshops on peace and reconciliation, supporting groups, doing special projects for the Centre Director, scrubbing toilets ... you name it, when there was something to be done, Teri was there. Her two sons, Jesse and Jason, also spent time at the Centre as summer volunteers while she was here. While it was sad to see her go, we were all celebrating her adventurous spirit as she drove off with Aileen, her “entire life” in four suitcases. The picture below is of Jo, midterm volunteer who arrived the day before me, and was also here last summer, William, one of the chefs in the kitchen, me, and Teri on the day we were cooking the long term volunteers’ farewell supper at the end of August.

It’s the custom for goodbyes that as soon as folks hug and wave goodbye in the car park, they run to the top of the cliff so that they can wave goodbye as the car drives down the steep hill. Of course the driver has to drive a bit slowly as everyone makes a mad dash to the cliff, where the cross is, to wave goodbye. It’s a ritual for all the volunteers when they leave. It’s quite a workout, especially twice in half an hour!

Several instances this week made me realize that I had turned a corner as far as becoming part of the wider Ballycastle community. On Tuesday, I got my hair cut at a local salon. I was hoping to last until I got home, but just couldn’t do it. It’s a risky thing, going to a new stylist, in a foreign country. I’m happy to report that all is fine in the hair department.

Then I had to visit the surgery (health clinic) for something odd that was happening to my eye ... for the third time in about 10 days I had quite worrisome looking broken blood vessels in my eye. Exploding eyeballs I called it ... perhaps the stress of the last month? What worried me was that each time it happened it got a little bigger ... by Wednesday it looked like I had a little red duck stamped into my eyeball. Thankfully, according to the doctor there’s nothing serious going on ... perhaps a very tiny abrasion that has become irritated. “It’s very windy and dusty up at Corrymeela” she said. Which it is, for sure. And, I can also happily report that it’s much better today. Hopefully that’s the end of the exploding eyeballs.

And, the third thing that made me feel like part of the community was that as I was walking down the main street of Ballycastle from the surgery, my most regular taxi driver, Paddy Dornan, drove by and waved at me. “Wow,” I thought, “how cool is that?” Later, after I ran my errand, I found him at the head of the taxi line. I didn’t even have to tell him where I was going (to Corrymeela). “Did you get up to Tor Head yet?” he asked me, knowing that it’s something I want to do before I go home. (I haven’t).

I will miss this place for sure ... but I am beginning to count the days until I get home. Pat asked if there’s anything he should get in for me on my arrival. I’m afraid I sent him a long list ... including Montreal bagels, popcorn, cream for my coffee, a good steak for a bbq, and a huge array of vegetables. Oh yes, and not to have to label everything “Martha” when I put it in the fridge or cupboard.

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