Episode Three – An Ocean of Doughnuts
“THERE’S so much water here. The river. The rain. The flooding. It’s all encompassing. I’m so afraid of water, but here in Cork, it soothes me somehow. I walk in it and bike in it and I’m happy in it.
“Maybe that means I’ve finally gotten over the near drowning which has to be the root of my unnatural fear of water.
“I mean, before that, I used to love going on vacation just so we could stay at a hotel and swim in the pool. That was the highlight of every summer. And the beach was the occasional bonus — except for the first summer we went to Myrtle Beach.
“Remember we were teasing the cousins who weren’t allowed to play in the waves with us because they didn’t know how to swim? They could only sit at the water line and let the waves rush up and over their legs.
“That seemed so lame until the next day when someone spotted a shark swimming in the shallow waters and the lifeguards cleared us all out.
“The shark eventually made its way back out to sea, and by the afternoon, they let us all go back into the water. But we didn’t go back into the water.
“We were all lined up in a perfect row along with the non-swimming cousins, sitting at the water line and letting the waves rush up and over our legs. The shark had only been four feet long, but in case it came back, no one was trying to be a test dummy for how its length did or did not correlate to the size of its bite.
“That next morning, mother had popped up with the unexpected treat called a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut, six dozen of them, which sounds like a lot, but it’s not when you have to share them with your entire greedy family and other people who aren’t even related to you.
“I only got two, which was just enough to get me happy and then mad. I dreamed about that deliciousness for three long years and couldn’t wait to get back to it.
“The shark had been long forgotten by the second Myrtle Beach trip. Every morning of the second Myrtle Beach trip, I would track daddy and Uncle Garrett down in the hotel restaurant — where they were reliably hiding out from mother and Aunt Jane — and con daddy out of three dollars and sixty-five cents, which was enough to slap down on the counter of the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop directly across the street and collect a box of 12 hot, perfectly shaped, fried and glazed doughnuts.
“I would eat them all at once and then dust the glaze flakes from my clothes and lick my fingers clean.
“By the time I made it back to the hotel, you and Jordan would be just waking up and we would change into our swimsuits and head to the beach. I would run around like a lunatic on a sugar high until that ran out and then I would need a nap.
“On the second to last day, I hopped on one of our inflatable pool loungers and somehow nobody noticed me drifting away.
“It was probably the feeling of fire from my skin frying in the sun that woke me, and then I was startled to see how far away I was from the shore and then, while sitting up with my legs dangling in the water, a stingray had jabbed me in the foot. And then I fell off my floatie and almost drowned, but the lifeguard came roaring out on the jet ski and saved me.
“He couldn’t detach the death grip I had put on the floatie, so he dragged me onto the jet ski still clutching it and whisked me back to the shore where they stuck my foot in a bucket of scalding hot water.
“And then he asked me where my parents were. Good question. I was like seven hotels down from ours and it makes my stomach hurt thinking how way, far out I had been.
“My third weekend here in Ireland, I went on the Kerry trip for international students and we toured the Ring of Kerry. Most of it is situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, which sounds a lot scarier than just the plain Atlantic Ocean.
“It looks scarier and it has a fiercer roar too, but it didn’t make the fear rise up in me like being near our regular old Atlantic Ocean does.
“Of course, the fact that I wasn’t drifting out to my death on a dollar store floatie could have had something to do with that.”
TOMORROW: “I ran into Dennis years later and he looked great. You would never have known he had emergency surgery to remove his spleen.”