I flopped out of bed, and I staggered to the shower. Staring into the mirror while brushing my teeth, my eyes looked bleary and bloodshot. It had been a disturbed night’s sleep, thanks to a wonky shoulder. Only after my alarm started its melody of doom, did the urge to fall into a deep slumber overcome me. I resisted. I have to be at work by a certain time. Even though my boss is on summer holidays for two weeks, I still have to show my face and appear alert. The industrial wastelands never sleep you know.
Normally on a dry morning such as today, I would walk the twenty five minutes to the bus stop. It’s a bit of exercise, which is always healthy. By the time I have reached my departure stop – which is the first on my route, I will be awake – from the combination of the physical movement of my walk, and the coffee purchased each day, from the gift shop at the maternity hospital. The walk clears my head, and sets me up for the day. Walking through the city centre, passing the bullet scarred General Post Office (emblems of its involvement in the 1916 Rising), I try to avoid eye contact with the smiley Jehovah’s Witnesses handing out ‘The Watchtower between the post office pillars– I am a homosexual atheist; we’d only be wasting each other’s time.
If I am late, I will take the ugly route to the fifth stop on the route – thereby giving me a few extra minutes. This takes me through some of the least salubrious neighbourhoods of Dublin. I always cringe a little walking under the railway bridge en route. Not just from the stench of urine and despair, but from the bleakness and grime of the whole area.
Sometimes on a day like today, I’ll take the tram to as close to my bus stop as I possibly can. This is a special treat, for when keeping my eyes open is a struggle, and walking is too burdensome.
I slouched at the tram stop – staring vacantly into the distance – hovering in that space between sleep and being awake, when I heard some noise behind me, followed by a squawking sound. I glanced back. It was three security guards from one of the glass buildings, chasing a limping seagull who had a sandwich in her mouth. Someone’s breakfast. The seagull was unsteady on her feet. The security guards encircling her were clearly a bit nervous also. Seagulls can be aggressive. Despite the hissing, she was not surrendering the sandwich.
She took flight. My heart soared as I remembered the Engelbert Humperdinck song from the film ‘Beavis and Butthead do America’. I’m not passing any judgement about the bird’s sexual orientation, the song just popped into my head.
I raised my eyes in appreciation as she departed, as I slowly mouthed the words.
Fly lesbian seagull. Fly.
I boarded the tram and started on my way.