Last Days in Ireland

It feels like a dream. The entire journey. I blinked, and here I am again back home in my own bed. I got to see everyone I love again. But I had to say goodbye to a place that eternally touched my heart. That goodbye, however, remains to be a haze. And now it’s a month later…

As I talk to my family and Paul about my adventures, I feel like I’m talking about some other life. It’s like four months of my life vanished, and now remains hidden in the River Lee. I’m exhausted and split open with a whole new range of emotions. I’m not quite sure what to do about them. My adventure has ended…

I thought I would write one last post about my last few weeks. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next, but hopefully I will figure it out by the time I finish this entry. I left off on the Monday after my English adventure. Time started to speed up. My counting down sped up and ran straight into the last day (I nearly typed- “here” still thinking I’m in Cork).

I left off on my return from England. Which feels like an eon ago. That Tuesday I ended up sleeping a solid 11 hours. I woke up with motivation and cleaned. I enjoyed a good cup of instant Starbucks coffee my mother sent me. I went to class after going to the library to do a bit of research on my paper I had due within a week. At 9 I was picked up to go to Blarney. I ended up just playing with the locals the whole time. It was the first Tuesday of the month. I had been organizing a gift idea for Mags and Martin, and my friends were busy signing the journal dedicated to them. At one point in the session, John and I switched instruments. I got to play his mandolin, which has the same strings as a fiddle, just doubled. It was fun, and I put the instrument on my wish list.  This was the second to last Blarney session, time was growing short. And as that night ended with old men singing Danny Boy. I felt tears prick my eyes (if we’re being honest, them tears pricking my eyes like hell right now).

Wednesday didn’t included much (I took notes that week, hence the precise times and details). I woke up. Had another cup of coffee, go to class, come back and write a paper. Thursday was my fiddle exam. It was at noon, and I hiked up that hill with a magnificent view. I sat down in front of my teacher and the examiner and played my tunes. I saw her foot tapping, so it must not have been too bad. I think it was because I played outside the required tunes, and it was a relief to hear something different. I played the two Bally Desmond Polkas (the first tunes I learned here), along with one of Dan O’Keefe’s slides and Sunny Banks (a fantastic reel). I was confident, and as I felt the Irish sun pour into that room, I played my heart away.

I went back to my flat and napped for a bit, for that night I was invited to a Christmas party. I had a bunch of my friends come over to party a bit with Felix. It was his last night in Ireland before his winter break. I took a good few pictures with him, John, Kyle, and Chiara. I had no idea when we would have time to say goodbye, they were such fantastic flat mates.

Chiara and me

Chiara and me

Felix and I

Felix and I

John and I

John and I

Kyle and me

Kyle and me

My friends and I hung out and then headed to the Christmas party with my API friends as well.

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So Friday was the dance class final. All our dancing in Blarney and Friday mornings has lead to this point. CJ and I climbed the hill for the final time. We met up with the group and practiced all morning with Mags. Then we all lined up outside the hallway and were called in to dance for Mags and the examiner (the same examiner for my fiddle exam). First was step dancing. Me and three others danced our Reel, our Hornpipe, and Light Jig. I must say I did much better at fiddling. I realize step dancing is not my best cup of tea. Then was the set dancing exam. Cj and I make a good dancing team. Our group ended up messing up, but we continued on. All in all, I do think everyone did great. I’m gonna miss the dance class.

dance group

After dancing, we went into town to finish looking for things for Martin and Mags. We didn’t find anything for Mags, but decided a good liter of special reserve whiskey would be good for Martin. We all agreed to just going to Blarney early next Tuesday, so we could stop at the Mills Gift store to pick out Mags gift. That way we could pick up our family’s presents as well. That night we all hung out and watched movies.

The weekend was filled with me trying to complete my essay that was due Tuesday, along with finishing some traveling plans for the following weekend. I believe it was right around then when I discovered quite a bump in my journey back home. It started with me wandering around on Facebook and seeing a friend’s status saying “Switching airports in Germany… wish me luck.” I kinda snickered and counted my blessings, before looking at my itinerary. Then. I took back any arrogance and pride I had. My flight, landing in Paris gives me a three to four hour layover.. and I was required to switch airports….

In a panic, I started collecting my resources and trying to find out how I would manage this. At first I called the airport ticketing office that I booked my flight with way back in April. They said that it was possible because there was legal issues with the company booking me something that was in fact impossible. The man I talked to suggested the rail system or a bus system I could use to transit from one airport to the next. I then went to my lovely French friend Marine, to see if she had any suggestions. She did after all live in Paris.

Well with my incredible luck, Marine was on the same flight as me. She and her mom, would bring me directly to the new airport right when we landed. I have never been so thankful. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me (this will be continued later when discussing my journey back home).

That Monday, I finished up my paper that was due Tuesday. I braced myself for the following evening, for it would be my last night in Blarney.

After turning in my paper, I met up with a bunch of my friends. We were going to head to Blarney a bit earlier that day so we could shop around for family and friends, along with the continued search for the gift for our Mags. We found the perfect charm bracelet that said “a beautiful heart” in Irish (see last post). We then head to the Castle hotel and waited for everyone to show up.

It was such a great party. The hotel prepared a buffet for us consisting of my favorite curry dish. We were joined by Martin and Mags and all of the many Blarney students that had been going every Tuesday that semester. I went around taking pictures and just laughing; enjoying the company and Irish happiness.

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The banner the hotel made was perfect. We, as a group, gave Mags and Martin their parting gifts. We took one final picture before heading into the pub to enjoy our last bit of the Irish music session.

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Here came the rough part for me. Looking back at my trip to Ireland, it becomes summarized into these Tuesday nights jamming out with the session. I remember this night clearly. It was my last time with these lads. However, when I try to bring up words to describe it. It becomes nearly impossible. The group played my favorite tunes with me, I was given a clover to deck out my violin with, and the music touched my heart with a warm good bye. All I could keep telling myself was,”I’ll be back. I promise I’ll come back here. This isn’t my last session at Blarney.”

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I went around like a mad man taking pictures with all my friends…

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I was also to be sure I took pictures with each member of the session

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All in all, it was a great night… I can’t believe it was done… My heart was heavy as Martin drove me back to my flat. I’m sitting here now at my school back in the states, and I’m trying to reflect on that night in the most emotional way possible. But all I come up with is the tunes and laughter that echoed that night. I do promise I will be back there someday. I am eternally grateful I had such an experience.

Here is a short video that demonstrates the bittersweet feeling I now hold of this lovely place:

On Wednesday, I had my last API dinner. It was sad to say goodbye to these people, but we all will stay connected every time we think of the incredible trips we took together.

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The days now blur together. They’re filled with packing and preparation for going home. I remember my stomach turning with confused emotions. I was excited to go home and be reunited with my family and Paul. But I had built a life here in Ireland, and leaving torn my heart a part. Leaving my friends was another huge heart ache. So on Thursday, we got together for one last night out in Cork. All I could do was take pictures and enjoy the company of my friends.

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I woke up Friday morning with the sudden realization that it was my last full day in Ireland. It was then that I wrote the previous post and go out exploring Cork one last time. That night, I hung out with everyone one last time. We watched P.S I Love You and ate our favorite food from Chipsy King. We also walked around Cork, and went on the ferris wheel that was set up there.

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Afterwards it was then, that we all had to say goodbye to each other. I hate goodbyes (as previously mentioned before), and this was one of the hardest goodbyes. Its good to know though that most of us can realistically see each other again. It’s just gonna be a lot harder. It’s not like we can all text each other and walk to a pub down the street. But this makes for new adventures and that is something I look forward to.

I go back to my room and I sat on my bed starring at my packed stuff. I drink some tea and gather my thoughts before I attempt sleep. But eventually I do, and even if it was short, it was still sleep. The only sleep I think I’ll get for the next 36 hours.

I wake up and start pacing my apartment. Mags had agreed to take me to the airport. When she arrived, the sky was grey and it was raining. I put my things in her car and race to reception to drop off my keys. I remember as I walked back to her car I looked up at the sky, closed my eyes and let the rain fall on my skin. I took a deep breath in and felt Ireland kiss me goodbye. A bit of heart went with those rain drops, a bit of my soul was drunk into the ground. I know I’ll return, but the rain was a bittersweet was of saying goodbye.

Mags and I drove through Cork and arrived at the airport. Saying goodbye to her was a lot harder then saying goodbye to my friends. Only because I don’t exactly know when I’ll see her again.Thankfully I was slightly distracted because of the crazy day I have ahead of me. I said goodbye to such a dear friend with such a beautiful heart, and rolled my two large suitcases into the airport. I checked in and was only charged 100 dollars for my extra baggage. I took my fiddle and back pack to my gate. I met up with Kyle and Caroline and waited to see Marine arrive. My energy was at a high and I was eager to get the journey started. I was worried that my flight was going to be delayed and cause a huge hiccup in my traveling for the rest of the day. Thankfully everything went smoothly. Marine arrived with her friends and we boarded the flight to Paris.

So then here it comes. As the plane took off, I looked below me and waved to Ireland one last goodbye. My feet left the ground, and sudden;y I was no longer in Ireland. A heart wrenching experience that brought tears to my eyes. A small part of me was relieved, and was ready to go back to my old life. But I couldn’t believe it was over.

Now this flight was a bit long as I sat with a large amount of anxiety in that seat. We landed in Paris, and Marine and I went off to find her mom. Everything and everyone was speaking in French. I kinda kicked my eighth grade self for choosing spanish instead of french. Marine’s family was so glad to see her, but after looking at the traffic that was between me and the other airport, they got a bit nervous, and we then took off on a wild race to my next airport.

It was something out of a movie. We couldn’t find the car. Then her mom raced through Paris and was even doing the whole “hurry hurry” in french. It was incredible how universal language is at times. I was able to get the general concept of what Marine and her family was saying just by their facial reactions and emotions. I was later told that Marine’s mom thought we weren’t gonna make it in time to the airport. But we did. And we arrived and me, Marine, and her mom had to stressfully lug my baggage up flights of broken escalators to the check in. I honestly would not have found it on my own. So I checked in, and gave Marine’s family a huge thanks. I had no idea how to thank these perfect strangers for helping me. I later wrote a letter to them, but nothing could ever thank them enough for this very large kind gesture.

I sat down at my gate. And finally, relaxed. As far as I was concerned. The rest of my trip was going to be fine. The flight was suppose to take off at 5 and land at 8 in the states. But my crazy journey home, wasn’t over yet. I get on the plane and snuggle into my seat. It wasn’t as spacious as the last flight I had over the Atlantic. It was most positively a smaller plane. I had a woman from the City (New York) on my left, and a girl scout who had spent a few months in french teaching english on my right. These two, would become my saving grace.

First problem was that the flight crew delayed our take off until they could replace the computer in the plane. I remember chanting “just get me off the ground” all I wanted to do was be home. I was exhausted. Just about a half an hour later, we finally take off and was in the air.

Then. Preoccupying myself was the next problem. I had food and an i-pad the flight gave me (along with some french wine) to entertain myself. But that wasn’t enough. So the woman next to me and the girl scout provided great conversation. I later zonked out to some meditation music. Finally, the last hour came. But we were already in the general area of the City. What took so long to land, and what took up that last hour, was trying to FIND a way to land. It was snowing outside. And when I mean snowing. I mean, looking out the window, seeing the wing light blink, and a crazy amount of snow go by. It was a blizzard to say at least. A blizzard in the sky. Here I ended up chanting “Get me on the ground, get me on the ground” The woman started talking about her grandchildren skiing in Chile to distract me. It worked thankfully.

Finally we land. But after quite a few bumps and crazy shakes. You know it was a crazy flight when everyone claps to thank the pilot once we were on the ground. But the problems aren’t done yet. the plane couldn’t taxi around to it’s gate. It took us an hour to do just that. We even had to have a truck pull us in. there was so much snow on the ground. Finally, we board off. I thanked my companions and raced to see Paul. He was all I wanted at this point.

After some time getting my luggage and going through customs, I finally left the terminal and went to find Paul.

And I found him. He was wearing the “world’s shortest leprechaun” shirt I had sent him. He also proudly displayed a semi-orange beard he had grown to match it. I had come home from the land of leprechauns to my very own personal one. I finally had him back in my arms. It didn’t feel real. I was so happy. Tired. But thrilled. Nothing could ever describe that re-union.

I couldn’t quite go home yet. By the time I was back in Paul’s arms it was 10pm. Paul and I still had a five hour drive home. We decided (or rather it was already decided) that we would stay in the City and head home the next day. So we went to our hotel and relaxed. I held him and we watched Christmas movies and ate greasy New York City pizza. It was perfect. But I couldn’t believe I was state-side. I couldn’t believe that my trip to Ireland was done. But it was…

So the next day we got up and traveled home. I took a few pictures. the snow had an ugly persona the night before, but it was rather beautiful that day. I finally arrived home. And was finally in the arms of my family once again. Everything was alright.

First picture in the states!

First picture in the states!

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my personal leprechaun

my personal leprechaun

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So there you have it. My adventure. And here I am writing it, over a month later. I still can’t believe it happened. It really does feel like a dream. I’m back at Saint Michael’s and back in my routine of classes and working. I have Paul currently sleeping behind me, and I have my family at home. I still talk to all my friends from Cork. But nothing is the same.

I shall return to Ireland someday. It won’t be the same experience. I truly have appreciated the experience that I did have. I know I’ll never have something like it again. I have learned so much. I have grown so much.

So here’s a few pictures of my time at home before I finish up.

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So there you have it. My adventure! I have become so lost in the world. And now I’m home, and life goes on. I think I will write again soon about adjusting and more adventures while home. But for now. I end here.

Thank you for following me while on this journey,

Until more adventures,

Sláinte.

One response to “Last Days in Ireland

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