I didn’t realise how desperate I was to get to Los Angeles until my flight touched down in Atlanta an hour and a half after its expected arrival time. The man next to me with the charming baby (God bless him) was trying to be helpful when he told me that Atlanta was the biggest and busiest airport in the US, with the most efficient transfer system, but my face must have shown my dismay. Addled by sleeping tablets as I was, when they opened the cabin doors I took off running, elbowing rude cabin staff out of my way and skidding around obese American football fans to make it to the boarding gate on time. It didn’t occur to me that my suitcase had no prospect of making the connection to the LAX flight. All I could think of was Maureen and JJ circling Terminal 5 at 7.30pm while I was still touring the US’s biggest airport. And of somebody else who was waiting for me.
At the risk of sounding slightly crazy – Note: people invariably do go on to say something actually crazy after that introduction — I feel like there’s been a ghost at my shoulder for the last two years. She appeared in the Special Collections of the Hardiman library, lodged herself in a corner of my room in No. 2 on Augustine Street, and when the time came she followed me back to Dublin. Aideen enjoyed her time in the Irish Writers’ Centre, where she got to kick up her heels a little, and she flirted a little with Higgins in the National Library, but she was a little more indignant as she paced the floor of my office of Rehab Group in Sandymount. Her patience has been stretched.
I landed in LAX just before 7.30, but night falls early abruptly here so it was already pitch black as we raced the freeway back to Franklin Avenue. Fifteen hours travelling, but snug in JJ’s pyjamas, I didn’t feel jet-lag, only a sense of relief that was powerful enough to knock me sideways. Aideen has finally sat down and sighed with relief. We’re face-to-face; we’re both ready to do this. My last thought before I curled up to sleep in Maureen’s beautiful home: Ok, Aideen, here we go. I’ll mix the Gin Fizz cocktails and you start talking.
JJ and I moved into our ‘sublet’ in Silver Lake yesterday. It’s a gorgeous little one-bedroomed studio apartment. The walls are covered with framed theatre posters and the place is littered with dance shoes. It’s humming with creative energy and I’ve already set up a little work station in a cool corner of the living room.
Last night we lapped the Silver Lake reservoir, as the sun dipped behind the Californian hills. Amid the stream of runners, I pounded the sandy track and plotted out a work programme for the next few weeks. At one point, I looked out across the water and for some reason thought of Galway and Salthill. The reservoir is a striking blue in the last glimmering rays of the day. Flat and still, barely a ripple in the breeze, it couldn’t be more different from the pounding waves of the Atlantic in Salthill. But I remembered walking in Salthill one Sunday morning with someone who forced me to reach for the wall at the end of the prom, and forced me to think about this project in a new way. However the stars were aligned that day over the raging sea, they had already set out this journey.