twenty-eight – adventure is out there

When I left for Dublin at the end of last summer, I thought a lot about the idea of leaving and coming back. I spent hours imagining what adventures awaited me in Ireland. Everything became an adventure, whether I was walking on the Giant’s Causeway or walking across campus with my laundry in tow. Ordinary tasks became extraordinary ones because I was in Ireland.

My friends and I would often take a moment on our trips–Galway, Cashel, Dublin, Belfast, wherever we were–to pause, look at each other, smile really big, and just say, “Guys. We’re in Ireland.

This typically led to all of us grinning rather goofily and jumping up and down at least once or twice.

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Exhibit A: Lis’s THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING, WE ARE ACTUALLY HERE AND I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT IT face.

Anyway, going home has been, while relaxing… a bit dull. Not because I wasn’t standing next to Lis on the Cliffs of Moher, or because my letters are addressed with Forever stamps instead of International stamps–more because of the small things, I think. Laundry isn’t an annoying adventure that takes me across a 400 year old campus, trains don’t drop me at Howth for hiking and seafood chowder.  In short, ordinary tasks became ordinary again.

And that is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to spend spring break of my senior year on a road trip with the lovely Meryl. Other reasons included: Meryl is the best, road trips are awesome, and Ithaca is gorges.

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Hi, Meryl!

Yes, we did use that pun at least ten times a day while we were there. No, we did not get bored of it. We were still using it when we hit Michigan.

The decision to go on a road trip went something like this. Continue reading

twenty-five – city of love

Not the city of brotherly love (that one’s called home, and I’m not quite there yet) — and no, I’m not making some vague reference to falling in love or a whirlwind romance during my time in Dublin, as neither of those occurred (saving my falling in love with the city itself and my whirlwind romance with the pastries of Avoca and KC Peaches).

No, I mean it quite literally, presenting it as a title: Paris.

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… though, to be quite honest, I’d have to say that the City of Light seems more appropriate. I didn’t quite get the “City of Love” vibe (but perhaps this is because I speak no French other than mais oui, merci beaucoup, pardon, and bonjour).

City of Light, though — that’s a name I could get behind.

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…even if it is supposed to be due to the Age of Enlightenment and not electricity.

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twenty-four – all life is here, mrs. ainslie

Why would you not go out? There’s so much to see.

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Parnell Square East, Dublin, Ireland

I went to Italy this past weekend. Somehow, one of the biggest American holidays rolled around without me paying any attention to it: I turned around suddenly and the Black Friday e-mails had swamped my inbox, my mother was sending me pictures of one of my Thanksgiving favorites (squash rolls, for those of a curious nature), Hanna accompanied me to Thanksgiving dinner with some friends in Maynooth, and next thing I knew I was stepping off a plane in Italy.

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twenty-two – the return of quippy titles and self-deprecating jokes

Of course, while I thought I had a major problem to face in writing about my time in Berlin, I now found myself with a different difficulty: how do I even attempt to write something else now? The problem I have with writing lies in its addiction: as much as I hated it when I was younger, I have this rather driving need for it now.

… And, in case there was any doubt on the matter, my father responded to my last blog post with a lovely, heartfelt e-mail… that included the line that it was all “so different from the crying daughter in my Charlottesville office!” I may not remember that day, but I’m sure it happened more than once. I didn’t much care for writing when my lovely mother was homeschooling me (much, as she was an English teacher, to her chagrin!).

Leaving behind the fourteen-year transition from sobbing seven-year-old to sobbing twenty-one-year-old, I must admit that it feels quite strange to be writing about something that could, following on my last post’s coattails, feel rather flippant. Flippancy must be avoided, of course, but life cannot be all deep thought and gut-wrenching emotion. Even Tolkien, that master of heart-twisting writings (seriously, have y’all read those appendices? Tears. Everywhere. Not kidding.) — well, even his characters knew there must be more than sorrowful reflection. What is it Frodo told Sam in that letter?  In the book, it’s that he must be happy… and in the movie, they change it to that voiceover, remember?

My dear Sam. You cannot always be torn in two. You have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be and to do. Your part in the story will go on.

And so, whilst you hastily wipe your eyes after reading Frodo’s words (be honest: the end of Return of the King makes you cry, doesn’t it? No? … Well, that’s just me, then. As you were!), I move onward to yesterday’s adventures.

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… I know. You weren’t expecting me to pull the police in on this.

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seventeen – unexpected learning opportunities

This week, I:

  • woke up to find my country’s government had, quite literally, shut down over night
  • made friends with a lovely woman named Afolake, studying for her BSc in nursing, who needed help figuring out how to get a student bus pass
  • plotted out the first draft of an itinerary of sorts for when Becky gets here in less than a week (!!!!)
  • been reblogged by Kid President (…!!!!)
  • received my first mail since making it to this country over a month ago! I couldn’t stop smiling yesterday. Thank you, Shirley & Clint, for an amazing care package!
  • made an unexpected trip to the hospital (Ty broke his ankle; Lis and I brought him a change of clothes & a number of books to stave off boredom)
  • almost fainted while in said hospital
  • discovered The Head and the Heart’s new song, Another Story; proceeded to listen to it an embarrassing number of times
  • decided that rosemary salt is the perfect garnish for chips. No, seriously.

… in that order.

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also, Lis & I tried to make Irish friends at a breakfast the Hist held… only to meet more international students. We’re beginning to question the existence of these supposed “Irish” students at this supposedly “Irish” school…

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sixteen – traveling

This weekend, some friends & I headed west. Here’s the thing with traveling, though. Plane, bus, car, train — whatever form it takes, travel swoops me up into a quiet, contemplative calm of nostalgia.IMG_2651This might be partially due to the music I gravitate towards when traveling: Bon Iver, “Blue Northern Lights” by Ollabelle, instrumental tracks by The Piano Guys, a little Ingrid Michaelson here, and some Laura Marling or Snow Patrol there, the Swell Season, Iron & Wine, Ryan Adams and Emmylou Harris singing “Sweet Carolina,” Kelley McRae.

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