It’s June 16, and that can only mean one thing: It’s BLOOMSDAY!
Over the course of my journey as a writer, Bloomsday has become a poignant anniversary of sorts for me. It’s a special day to joyfully embrace the writer I am and the path I’ve traveled to get here, both literally and figuratively.
I lost a very special friend and colleague named Tara in December of 2013, which was followed by the unexpected passing of both my father and my father-in-law in 2014. Suffice it to say that it was an extremely dark time for me, a time when I could not see the light no matter how hard I tried to find it.
What I did see in the crowd on Grafton Street in Dublin in August of 2014 for a fleeting second, though, was a quick glimpse of shining red hair the same hue as Tara’s framing a face that was her twin.
I caught a glimpse of that hair and that face’s profile twice more in the Dublin crowd that day, and my neck was nearly wrenched from double-takes and fast glimpses.
The proverbial seed which changed my life for the better, was planted.
Tara was of Irish descent and with James Joyce as her favorite author, she wanted to travel to Dublin. I’ll never forget when she told me she someday hoped to see the sights he wrote about when we were standing in her classroom with the sun shining through the windows behind her.
It made complete sense to me that I observed her likeness in Dublin’s crowd on that fateful day. The fact I was still able to connect with her was calmly reassuring.
Fast forward to about a year later when Tara’s spirit made it clear that she still had work to do here on Earth.
I began to notice a lot of serendipitous signs after having an extremely vivid dream which provided a very weak blueprint of a story idea. Tara was undoubtedly at the helm of the universe scattering those bread crumbs and everything was coming up Dublin.
I mean a whole over TEN PAGES of signs in my log.
So I went to Dublin.
I didn’t know why I was there or what I was supposed to do or see or feel. I planned my Dublin itinerary around James Joyce locations and worked in a trip to the Hill of Tara for obvious reasons. I looked through Tara’s eyes and walked in the footsteps she so wanted to walk in but never had the chance.
Suffice it to say my heart and my soul knew that, for the first time in my life, I was on the right path. I believed in the journey placed before me even though I didn’t know where it was leading me.
I found myself in Dublin again a year later. This trip was marked by a second visit to the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove. Forgive me for the lack of details, but my encounter at the top of the tower needs to stay between me, Tara, and the universe. That visit, though, ultimately changed my life for the better.
It’s now 2018, and I finished writing a book earlier this year.
I freaking wrote a book! Its backbone is very loosely based upon this extraordinary journey, but as I wrote, the characters and story took on its own plot, themes, symbols, and impact. It’s called Chapter One-A Novel, but I’m pretty sure you already know that.
Tara is obviously a huge inspiration, but what I didn’t expect is for James Joyce to also play such an inspirational role. Every time I looked upon a Joycean artifact or walked in his or his characters Leopold Bloom’s and Stephen Dedalus’ footsteps, I tried to do so while looking through Tara’s eyes, never expecting to be so deeply inspired. I found beauty in the mundane details of life and learned that the present moment is, indeed, everything.
Those lessons didn’t stay in Dublin. They are with me every day, no matter where my feet might be touching ground.
Joyce wrote in chaos. Joyce wrote stories that his soul needed to tell. I’ll admit that it was quite difficult to comprehend everything going on in his books, especially Ulysses, and that I had to reread his works a lot to fully grasp them.
Joyce’s examples and creations taught me, most importantly, who I am.
Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses takes place on one day: June 16, 1904. He specifically chose that day for Leopold Bloom to wander around Dublin because he met his future bride, Nora Barnacle, in Dublin on June 16, 1904, outside of Finn’s Hotel (which still stands).
Bloomsday is celebrated by Joycean fans every year on June 16. Someday, I hope to be in Dublin to take part in its true reverie by celebrating with other Joycean revelers.
For now, I celebrate BLOOMSDAY here at the Jersey Shore because if it wasn’t for Tara leading me to James Joyce, I would not be penning this post.
I would not have written my first novel.
I would not be a writer.
That’s why I celebrate BLOOMSDAY.
Today I’ll toast Tara with gratitude for our friendship that transcends the boundaries of our individual worlds.
Today I’ll toast James Joyce and his tremendously unexpected inspiration.
Today I’ll toast them both for leading me to ME.
I trust the journey, I shut my eyes and see, and here I am.
Happy Bloomsday, friends!