Dec 30, 2012

The last post

Some of you have only had time to pop in here occasionally.  And some of you have been walking with me since August.  Still others among you fall somewhere in-between.  But no matter where you land on this spectrum, I'm grateful to you.  Thank you.

When I began this blog, I did so with modest expectations and an admittedly chirpy intro.  (For goodness' sake, I used footnotes.)

As the months passed, I was continually surprised by how many of you were following me.  As I had expected, this space became a helpful place for me to process all that I was experiencing, especially after the end of October.  (Also, I scrapped the footnotes.)

Today, I write in an attempt to close this chapter with some grace.  A few friends in Galway have actually asked if I plan to continue the blog, because - imagine this - they like my writing.  have toyed with the idea.  It might be a good way, after all, to keep them in the loop.  And writing is one of the best ways that I process.

The penultimate post

Since I've come home, life - in all of its to-do lists, color-coded schedules, and long-term agendas - has rushed forward to meet me.  In the spring, I'll need to start apartment-hunting.  On June 16, I'll graduate from college.  Two months later, I'll receive my white coat.

But I'll come to those bridges soon enough.  For now, a narrower focus will suffice.

Tomorrow marks two weeks since I arrived.  Two weeks.  And a week from then, I'll be moving back to Schenectady.  This is hard to believe.

Dec 19, 2012

Homebound, Part III: finally.

On the plane, just after I finished the second post in this series
Hi, friends.  Here's the last part of the story for you...

The rest of the flight went surprisingly smoothly...and I will admit that when I felt the wheels hit the ground, I bounced in my seat like a small child.  "I'm home!" I squealed to my seatmate, a graying old codger who surveyed my glee with obvious amusement.

In hindsight, perhaps having my camera out at Customs and Border Control wasn't the wisest decision...but hey, I was excited.

Dec 18, 2012

Because quiet time is precious

There is a little boy curling into my side, breathing soft and slow.  I wonder if he's dreaming of Spiderman.  Spiderman's his latest hero, you know.  How I've missed this...

I'm home...and it's good.  So good.

Homebound, Part II: ready or not...

Hi, friends.  I'm sorry that I've been AWOL for a little while.  Being home has proved to be a greater shock than I anticipated.  I'm going to need some time to process...but in the meantime, here's some reading material.

The plane out of Shannon was tiny - it looked like a baby bush plane.  As I toted my bag across the airstrip, I thought, that thing's really too small to be carrying anyone anywhere.

There's the airport from my window.  And it's hardly visible because of the glare, but directly below those letters is the arrivals corridor where I remember standing in August.
Despite my apprehension, the hour sped by and I soon found myself in Manchester...or, to be more specific, at baggage claims in Manchester.  My bag's checked all the way through, though.  Where am I supposed to go?

Dec 16, 2012

Homebound, Part I: camping out in Shannon

It felt a little strange to turn in my apartment key.
My bedroom for the past four months, stripped bare.
I spent my last few hours in the apartment writing some letters...
...but had to put that on hold when my friends came round to pick me up.
This is a quiet airport, friends.  It's literally me, three security guards, and the lanky guy napping at the departures desk.

Dec 15, 2012

To my Galway family

I love these two...but they're a little camera-shy.
To my dear Galway family:

Oh, gosh...I'm crying already :P

Business first: I'm leaving for Shannon around 6 pm tonight with M and R, and will hang out there until my first flight (to Manchester) leaves at 7 am tomorrow. I'll have two hours there and then it's 8 more to if all goes well, I'll be in New York by 1:40 pm on Sunday (6:40 pm Galway time).

Now that that's out of the way...look, you all know by now that I like to write. And usually, I can find words. But in this case, words really aren't enough. Still, let me try...

Dec 14, 2012

Because my family's the bestest family

A few hours ago, I said goodbye to two friends who have become family.  Wow.  I thought I'd never have a reason to want to return to Galway...and then I met these two.  I'm going to miss them more than they know.

And then there's the whole community-family to which they introduced me.  Check this out: upon hearing that I needed a ride to the bus station, two (other) friends offered to drive me...all the way to Shannon.  Now, my flight leaves at 7 am...which means that they've offered to leave here at 2:30 am to get there by 4 am.  And then they're going to drive all the way back.  This, friends, is friendship, service, love...and it's crazy, but it's also true.

Because I found these as I was packing

It caught me off-guard, this little postcard.  I was holding a pair of pants, mid-fold...and had to stop and remember.
I bought this for you at Clonmacnoise, a monastery I saw on my trip to Dublin.  It's a Celtic cross; there are lots of them here, especially at the monasteries.  You'd appreciate the way the stories have all been carved that anyone might see and understand.

After the trip, I tucked your postcard away, resolving to write the letter later so I could give it the proper attention.  I had the words already, though...words about Galway and being this far from Mum and my friends here and what I've learned to cook and med school classes and how I miss you, I miss you.

I was going to send it.  Would that still be appropriate?

Dec 13, 2012

Because it's important to be real

On some mornings, it hits like a wave.  A tidal wave.  Out of nowhere.

I hadn't cried for days.

For days, I'd been preoccupied with "lasts": my last weekend with dear friends, my last time at church, my last hug with this person or that person.  They're bittersweet, these "lasts".  Each one pulls me away from the ones I'll miss, yet nudges me toward those whom I've been missing all this time.  And it's simple physics, isn't it?  Two equal and opposite forces, battling it out...and I'd been motionless, pleasantly lost in the distraction of it all.

Dec 12, 2012

Because I have a thing for candles

I had grand plans today - to clean the apartment, write some letters, have a conversation that I've been putting off, finish a book that I put aside many weeks ago.

It's almost 4 pm and I've done a whole lot of nothing.

Why?  Because as I untangled myself from the sheets this morning, fumbling for the snooze button on my phone, one of my feet hit the half-packed duffel beside the bed.

A travel update and some puppy pictures

The clock is ticking.

My bus ticket to Shannon airport
My first flight (I have a layover in Manchester) leaves at 7 am on Sunday, and there are no buses that leave early enough on Sunday to get me there in time.  So I'll need to take a Saturday bus and camp out overnight in the airport.

Dec 11, 2012

Because home can be complicated

Yesterday, in mentioning my mixed feelings about going home, I wasn't as complete as I could've been.  In describing all of that nervousness, I focused on thoughts of Union and ignored one important factor - something that, yesterday, was too intimidating to write.  Friends, writing something - the very act of molding the the raw idea into words and sentences - lends it weight.


And this is the reality I avoided yesterday:

A few winters ago, right from the driver's seat

Dec 10, 2012

What happens afterwards?

I'm 21 years old, and yet have been told that I sometimes read like a 35-year-old mother of two.  But there are days when I feel more like I'm 21-going-on-3: like today, for instance.  Today feels like a prime day to throw a toddler-sized tantrum because my heart hurts and that's not okay.

Don't get me wrong; I've traveled a long way since the end of October.  Getting out of bed used to be a chore.  But I've finished my exams and am now using these final days to reflect and process as much of the past four months as I can.

And by this time next week, I'll be home!  Yes.  This is a thrilling prospect indeed.
In fact, I'm halfway packed.

Dec 7, 2012

Good heavens, my brain is tired.

Let winter break begin.


For better or worse, I learned and crammed and remembered and wrote as much as I could.  My results won't measure up to my standards, but I've known that for awhile.  Still, I tried and that's all anyone can ask of me - including myself.  Right?

Why waking up early can be rewarding

5:30 am: Silence usually spooks me before it stills me.

Regardless of the context - conversation, driving, trying to sleep, writing, studying - I generally need a fair amount of time to settle into silence.  There's something about the early morning hours, though, that renders all of that settling-time unnecessary.

In the interest of full disclosure: it could be the coffee, kicking in.

I'm strongly considering a refill.
But it could also be this hush, this undisturbed calm before all of the day's demands begin to clamor into the places where they ought to back off, thank you very much.

Dec 3, 2012

Distraction...or avoidance?

The periods of distraction are growing longer and longer.  This weekend, in fact, was one long loverly distraction.  Here are some specifics:

I baked a walnut-cinnamon apple crumble,

began to journal in this gift from one of my friends here,

and, on Sunday morning, sang (yes, sang!) soul-settling Christmas music with a family I will miss dearly.  (I wish I had a photo of us to post here for you - that, I suppose, will come in time.  But trust me - if I ever return to Galway, it will be to visit this family.)

Dec 1, 2012

In which I remind myself about what matters

After the official end of term (which was the Friday before yesterday), the university gives students a week off before exams begin.  I call this the study week.

My upstairs neighbors call it the play-techno-music-that-shakes-the-walls-until-4-am week.

So on Thursday night, I braided my hair, slipped into bed, and thought, it would be nice if they would just go to bed so I could rest.  We all need to study.  Don't they know what really matters?