Tháinig sinn ag an am ceart

The timing was good in the end, but it wasn’t the time that was predicted. We were at the mercy of the schedule but the schedule was really at the mercy of time. If we got it wrong, there would have been a lot of trouble. Front page news. Maybe even the obituary column too. Foreboding was my word for the day. I used it a lot, at the end when the foreboding was no longer boding. There were so many things that boded. The temperature. The ships. The current. The rocks. Fear itself. Coming down from town, the mouth of the port seemed close and simple. On the prom beside it, it seemed further, and that word again. A roro was going. Ambling past our path. It was a mount of Olympus to our mere chariots of tow floats ond goggles. Zeus at the helm, chaining us to the rocks if we dare smite his heavenly power. Mount Stena. The schedule was vague in my head but then it was vague in the heads of the harbour masters too. Were we to go? Were we to potentially have to turn back before we got to the mouth. It isn’t a big mouth but it eats big. And un-eats. We didn’t want to be eaten, nor vomited. We meet. Upbeat. We change and then walk to the end of the wall, under the virgin. It says the bishop opened her or blessed her or something while she stood on stilts looking at the chimneys across the way. We still aren’t sure about the boats as the schedule said 2 hours, yet we still haven’t seen the Carlow. Look, I said, we could be waiting here all day for the right time and it could pass before we stopped waiting. So at half three we walked down the last steps of the wall, suited up, like pensioners getting in baths. I expected sand but it was sludge at my feet and a sudden rock. Don’t take hold of that thought, I thought. Gently walking more, hands up to our chests like kangaroos. I’m now reminded of a video of boxing kangaroos. This confirms that violence predates, Cain and Abel. Apropos of nothing. On 3. 3 – 2 – 1. Snamh. The first look in the muddy waters. The feeling of life on my face. The knowing that you make decisions and the decisions stand by you. There’s no going back now. Only going out and around and up. When your eyes are at sea level, the mouth seems a mile away, even though it’s a kilometre. We stop after a minute, hum, haw then go. A few minutes later, the Carlow is steam packing out. Ok, now the schedule is just a charade. We don’t know what we can believe as the internet is nothing but fake news. We saw a lifeboat cruise out before we got in and now I’m worried that they’ll cruise back in and stop all this nonsense. Just keep swimming. The flurry of cormorants don’t seem to mind. The waves are kicking up in our faces. I’m not quite sure whether the current is for or against us, but instead of realising that if you can’t tell then there is nothing, the pervading fear of the unknown lingers. I keep looking up at the green lighthouse beacon, the turning point. It still seems to never come near. Maybe it’s my eyes or maybe my lens. We keep stopping now and then only to be reminded that it takes time to cover that kind of distance. I had forgotten that, when the beacon was waving in my face from a distance. The rocky weir is a city landmark, well it should be, though the tourist bus will have a hard time parking up alongside. I look back and the virgin has her back to us. She is clearly upset in that pose, bowing from on high. I don’t recall ever seeing a biblical painting where people are having the craic. Tá brón oraibh. The last rocks above water reach us, but the fear has me suggesting we have come far enough to the mouth. I think it is within the spirit of the rules. Himself agrees, probably thinking the same about traffic. The beacon is maybe 25 metres away but to all purposes an intents, it is just a stroke too far. We ease over the submerged weir and I remember that time in Wexford when we were rushed through a field of sea stones. Or that time in Dalkey when the rock was below us in our faces. Gently, we pass over and then launch into a canter. We must have swam for five minutes before looking up but it seemed we had barely moved. OK, now more worry. We are a kilometre out to sea, so now is not the time to get caught out. Head down, keep swimming. Now the voices start. Why are we not making headway? We had time this for a good push from here up the beach. The schedule again. It’s still shit. Did I get the currents wrong? Are we going to get caught by the next 400-thousand-tonner from Cherbourg? I’m tired because I’m not fit, not because we have been moving for nearly a half an hour. Land is the horizon and its grey. We plough on, ploughing and plodding. I can’t fathom why I think we are getting pushed out in a rip current when there is no rip. This sea swimming is a religion because it certainly isn’t a science. I’m getting nervous that we are swimming to stand still and that’s not a nice feeling. It was all unfounded as we later deduced. In religion, dark clouds are bad. In science they are glum. I believe in the water. I am putting all my faith in it. Water is life. I’m looking forward to the finish and I want to get there as quickly as I can now, but himself is ever keen to go further. I know if it was sunny or if I was fit, it would be different but I was beginning to appreciate that we went a long way today. We pick those trees and swam for ten minutes. Then we picked these trees because those trees were not in my heart. I apologise now for not reaching those trees. What I will say is that the next time, the trees will pass easier. The beach is shallow and way out we are up to our waists. As we come on land I think we both came to the understanding that we had conquered and vanquished one of our most complex days. We walk now. It’s October but it’s not cold, and we chat nonchalantly as we pass all the Sunday strollers. Another ferry was coming in now. We had come at the right time.