Travel wasn’t something new to me but living abroad, doing it all on my own was new. I had no connection to Ireland. I choose it because it was the only place close enough to travel to where they spoke English. But, once there I was able to find myself.
Two years ago I took the biggest risk of my life and moved myself to Ireland. I’d been there before studying abroad, seeing all the top tourist spots which included the Cliffs of Moher, Guinness factory, and the Ring of Kerry. Scared shitless with no clue what I was going to experience I took a chance on the place I did not know.
I wanted not to just live in Ireland but experience Ireland fully. And I did. The two years I lived there I got more out of it than I would have gotten out of living back home for the rest of my life. I lived in Cork, the second largest city in Ireland and what a lot of people from Cork would call the real capital of Ireland. Cork is a small city with a festival happening, what seemed to be, every weekend. I especially enjoyed Jazz Festival at the end of October. Each street is unique with its own look and you really get a neighborhood feeling to each area of Cork.
I’ve taken many road trips by car or by bus around Ireland. One day when I was living outside Kinsale I decided to take a trip up to Galway. It was going to take me three buses and a lot of waiting around but I would be there by dinner time. Sitting in the bus station waiting for my bus I felt at home, I was doing something I knew what to do. I watched as a variety of people, locals and tourists, came on and off the buses. There were several homeless people hanging out at the bus; I’d seen them before. Sitting there I realized that this city had character just like any metropolitan city. You wouldn’t expect this when you think of Ireland. My first expectation for Ireland back in 2013 was from the movie PS I Love You; I expected a lot of green, and no snakes. But as I traveled around, took my courses, and spent time in Ireland I realized there was so much more to this place than the view.
But the view wasn’t bad either. If you are ever in Ireland you would know what I am talking about; the rolling green hills, seeing such a distance with clouds hanging above. It wasn’t in the middle of now where it was in the middle of somewhere. And even in the middle of a city you would notice it too. Climbing to the top of Patrick hill you not only see the city but in the distance the horizen with a view of pink sky as the sun set.
One night, after an evening out with friends, all dressed up, our make-up still in tack, our hair ruined by the rain, our six inch heels now in our hands, we were bare foot heading down the street. Never had I put on heels or thought I would get this dressed up but here I was enjoying every minute of it. There was something inside of me growing. I was becoming someone different, someone I was always supposed to become. As we sat on the curb waiting for the taxi to come I realized this was what it meant to feel like one’s self.
I began to find myself, as I walked around Cork, and sitting where the sea meets the shore. On a boat ride to an island with no cell service, making friends with dogs, walking dirt roads. Laughing with strangers who weren’t even strangers. I had been a girl who was never known by her name, yet in the local Centra and in the pubs they knew my name. I now had my places to go, the city was my castle.
I was finally living for the first time in my life. You could find me in a garden on a swing set with my feet flying in the air. Going for spins around the parish. Running for village queen. On a bus driving across the country with One Republic playing in my ear while I watched sheep graze in the fields. None of it was getting old. I was falling for those eyes that looked at me. Finding self love. In a pub making out or out for the bants. Making memories and chasing sunsets with long time friends. Sitting on my own in a park. Climbing the highest point. If I never came we would have never met, but my life without them seemed impossible now. I found myself in every inch of Ireland.
But…. I also left my heart back in Ireland. Leaving behind all those memories and people, the places, everything I had seen. It was like my whole self was taken away from me when I left them behind. I lost myself in the place I was found.