“Has it changed much?”
I was asked this question more than once last week by friends I met on a visit to Dublin. I also asked it myself, given that it’s approaching two years since I moved away from the city, and the country.
After spending a couple of days walking the streets, visiting a couple of museums, some old favorite coffee shops and pubs, and just hanging out, my conclusion is simple: Dublin is fast.
The people on the pavements are fast, the cars and – even more so – the buses driving millimeters from the footpath are fast, the service is fast, the conversation is fast. Even the clouds whipping westward over the Liffey in the evening are fast.
Coming from Portland, a similar-sized city, this was an eye-opener. It led to more questions. How did I spend 20 years in Dublin moving at this pace? How was good for my shoes, or my timekeeping, or my digestion? And why have I been bumped off the pavement by two shoulder bags already this afternoon?
I’m 40, but a pretty active 40. I get as much done in a day in Portland as I did in one in Dublin. But I just seem to do it a little less hectically here.
Dubliners might pass the rush off as a symptom of a returned economic boom. But I remember the first one, and it wasn’t this busy around town.
The pace had its advantages though. Because of – or perhaps borne upon – the throngs of people I managed to knock off two museums, three bookstores, two coffee shops, a couple of restaurants and four pubs within a day or two, with plenty of time left over to gaze on at the city’s energy.
Could I do this every day, day after day, like I did in when I worked and lived in the city center, rarely venturing outside the canals for weeks at a time? Maybe. But that urge has gone – I’ll leave Dublin to the thousands and thousands of people, both younger and older than me, who still have an appetite for it.
For now, I’ll keep moving a pace or two slower, even if it means a five-minute wait for an americano or feeling duty-bound to let two cars zip merge instead of one. It’s not you, it’s me, Dublin. Right now I’m afraid I might slow you down.