Falling in Love in Four Parts: Thoughts on Ireland
If I hadn't already mentioned it, from mid-June to just yesterday I was studying in Ireland. I was so well-intentioned and really meant to write every day, but turns out friends, pubs, and rolling hills got in the way. The funny part is, I went abroad for a travel writing course, but found it was difficult to even do those bare minimum assignments. So as you can imagine, blogging on top of that was near impossible. Instead, here's a short piece I wrote for my class that sums up how I feel about the whole experience. I was given plenty of notes to spruce it up, but this is the first draft as is. I wrote this sitting on the floor of my room in Trinity College at 1 am, a little tipsy and a lot infatuated with this country. I think I want to honor that and leave it as such. Now if you know me in real life, let's grab coffee (Dunkin Donuts please; Ireland doesn't run on Dunkin so I need to catch up) and I'll talk your ear off about every tiny detail beyond what any piece of writing can encompass. Otherwise, I hope this will suffice and urge you to book a ticket to the Emerald Isle immediately. But on with the essay:
Falling in Love in Four Parts
Falling in love with Ireland was painfully cliché; if I read the synopsis of our summer fling on the back of a romance novel I’d roll my eyes and make some jaded comment about how those stories are all cheesy beyond words. In a way that is both gradual and all-at-once, my feelings for the country have to split into four parts, each as distinct as seasons on a calendar.
Falling in love with Ireland was first falling in love with Cork. Nerves that kept me up all night before my departure and had me feigning overconfidence upon arrival. It was making lofty plans and thinking the drunken bar fights in the streets were almost cute and quirky. I was infatuated and obsessed with Cork, because Cork brought me flowers when I least expected them.
Then it was falling in love with Doolin. The love that comes after the initial attraction, just when you think your feelings can’t run deeper. Doolin was lush green hills and letting my guard down little by little. It was jaunts to cafes and woolen socks. And when I thought I had seen all I needed to see of my beloved Ireland’s soft side, it brought me to the Cliffs of Moher and as its date to a surprise wedding reception.
The next phase of falling in love was falling in love with Galway. The domesticated love that made me think Ireland and I really could have a future together. Calling my mother and telling her I was in deep. Getting a tattoo to commemorate the fact that this love was bringing out the inner strength I wanted to find in myself. Hitting a little bump in the road when I was…lovesick, to put it nicely…over the side of the bridge where others have tied ribbon and secured padlocks.
And finally it was falling in love with Dublin. The type of love that comes with acknowledging flaws for what they are, whether crowded streets or slow-walking tourists, but not wavering in your feelings. Love that is at times exhausting and sobering, but you wouldn’t change anything about it. Because just when you think you’ve experienced it all and there’s no more surprises coming, there’s a busker playing one of your favorite songs from childhood. Or the calming embrace of your favorite gelato shop. Fresh bundles of flowers on sale for five euro.
Falling in love with Ireland might not be an epic tale for the storybooks, but it’s a love I won’t soon forget. Because no matter how many places you go and people you meet, you never forget the first country you fell in love with.