With this dawn comes responsibility. Pre-booked tickets and interconnected plans, a fabric of preconceived direction unlike anything my past self has ever really given me before. The morning air is already bright with warmth. I cycle alongside vans and articulated trucks to the Dublin port, entering the industry-heavy realm of twisted coloured metal, stacks of aging shipping crates, petrol fumes. I am boarded onto the lower deck of the ferry with all the HGVs. There is a three-bicycle rack there by the gangway, where BK will wait patiently for me to return to her, bracing herself by one wheel against the rolling of the sea. I say goodbye and make my way upstairs.
The sea is smooth and clean as silver. I stare out over it, this ethereal reflection of the air. Three hours of sleep is hardly enough to keep me going past this point. Food first, then rest, curled up in a booth with my bag between my legs like some kind of canvas egg. I awaken when we approach the other shore. The water glitters violently as we forge ahead to dock, and I disembark after the biggest truck, a guppy swept up in the slipstream of a shark.
Two trains follow close after one another and I hardly register either one. Marshmallows and peanut butter and a ribbon of land unspooling rapidly behind. Ill-behaved children and ill-tempered parents. Fits of sleep stolen before muscles relax into the rattling panes.
Every city has its own unique character. It is etched into the street signs, spattered in graffiti, lurking in each grubby corner. To be understood it must be seen, smelled--felt, boiling off the concrete in the sweltering heat of a midsummer's day. Manchester is its own self. A wizened old man, hunching over his meagre river with a shifty smile.