Things have been a bit quiet on my end. During the last month I have settled into the comforts of Ireland as I've made my little triangle across the country. North to Belfast, east to Galway, and soon I'll be heading back west again to Dublin. In many ways, this place is the most similar to the United States of all of the countries I've been in this year. It's allowed me some time to reflect and regroup; to take advantage of familiar comforts, to fill gaps in my traveling wardrobe, to think about what lies ahead in the remainder of my time abroad and maybe even the time after. It's been a month of landmarks too. I've now been a college graduate for one year, and one week from tomorrow I will fly to Iceland, my last Watson project country. I am already beginning to mourn the loss that will inevitably come with this year's close. It is impossible not to.
Last July, it seemed like this journey would be so long. In some ways, it has been. So much has happened over the last ten months that Bali sometimes feels like it happened years and years ago. Vermont feels like years and years ago and so does last summer when I was making anxiety-ridden trips to shoe stores and pacing in the woods behind our house, trying to figure out how I would say my goodbyes.
This year has felt long at times because it's been full. Full of miles and landmarks and meals and people and conversations and discoveries.
I still can't believe it's been ten months. I can't believe how quickly time goes. It is a sign of my age that I would even make such an obvious statement.
My parents arrived yesterday, just in time to catch Galway's fleeting summer weather. The last time I saw them when we said goodbye in Rabat, Morocco after our Christmas celebration together. I am so so happy to see them. They smile when I say I can't believe how quickly this year has gone. They know it's how things go. We can only hope the years to come will be as full.
In the past month I have:
-Set foot in a new country: Northern Ireland.
-Taken one of Belfast's famous Black Taxi tour.
-Supported a runner in the Belfast City Marathon.
-Gone bouldering. (Google it).
-Piloted a new peace & conflict-based board game (Contested Spaces, designed by Rory of Rory's Story Cubes) with students at the WAVE Trauma Center.
-Got swept up in the Titanic centenary at the site where the ship was built.
-Met (and interviewed) one of my favorite poets.
-Learned a great deal about The Troubles. Questioned its name.
-Gone hiking. Gotten muddy. Seen mountains. Felt like I was home in Vermont.
-Watched performances in Belfast's Festival of Fools.
-Experienced drastic changes in temperature (continually switched through all four pairs of shoes I packed in a 24 hour period).
-Walked the same streets as my grandmother's grandmother, Nellie Mitchell.
-Became an "adopted sister" to my favorite Guatemalan/Irish seven year-old.
-Been designated a "medium-dark" by a salesperson at the Clinique counter (only in Ireland...)
-Participated in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. Met Sam Amidon & Saint Etienne, took Gaby to a showing of The Red Balloon.
-Freaked out about the future. Felt better about the future.
-Done a bit of research on my Irish heritage.
-Experienced a (minor) burglary (possibly) by one of Belfast's apparently notorious criminals, "Billy One Ear" (I kid you not).
-Learned to say "Cheers' in Irish (Slàinte).
-Took long walks on the Salthill promenade.
-Picnicked in Eyre Square.
-Seen my parents for the first time in five months.
-Tried to slow down time.