(No Pictures because I forgot my camera for the first time and had to buy a good old fashion disposable I am adding one picture of Galway from the internet just to help portray the place that I am describing)
On the train to work this morning I found myself taking a moment of self reflection. It hit me, quite suddenly, that I have been in Ireland for 7 weeks. The time has flown by, propelled by a mixture of new experiences. The girl that started this journey barely having ventured outside her home town has grown. The growth was an inevitable outcome in this path I had steered myself onto, one that I have embraced whole heartily I wanted to grow; I wanted to take the path less traveled on. It would have been so incredibly easy to finish my last term at Western: a place that was familiar, a place that was comfortable. I didn’t want that for myself though I wanted to break myself out of the status quo I felt like I had fallen into. I wanted to experience a piece of the world. I wanted to break out of my cocoon and spread my wings.
The word “weekend” has taken on a new meaning since coming to Ireland. For the last three years in college the weekend was associated with two words in my mind: relaxation and homework. Without meaning to I found myself falling into a pattern of a stressful week of school, work, and homework only to yearn for the weekend to catch up on sleep and homework. It was a cycle that was comfortable. That simple word, “weekend”, has morphed slowly from that worn cycle to something completely new. The weekend is no longer merely for relaxation and homework, no it now has become an opportunity to travel. I travel every weekend having some of the most wonderful experiences and creating memories that will last me a life time.
This last weekend I made my way to Galway. Galway was very surprising. I have traveled to Belfast, around Dublin and to a lot of the little coastal towns in comparison Galway was completely unique. When travelling around Ireland the history that seems to dwell everywhere always makes its presence known no matter where I am at. Galway felt young in comparison to the other places I have been within Ireland. The history was not stamped within the location in fact it seemed to fairly vibrate with youth and energy. There were salsa dancers in the streets, musicians and even a devil. The word lively comes to mind, yet it still seems too tame to describe the town. The town was relatively small when placed next to places such as Dublin and seemed to have the little man syndrome. It was compensating for its lack of size with spirit. The little place was brimming with personality, in a way completely unique to itself. Where some places gain personality through age this little town seemed to just have a natural feistiness imbued within it. If the town were characterized it would give the impression of a rebellious teen. The spirited youthfulness was an almost tangible element within the air.
The town is not young, so why it gives the impression of youth will probably be one of the many mysteries of the world. It may, in its own way, be another peter pan: forever young. The perpetual youth is an endearing quality that seems to be contagious. That youthful energy seems to linger in the very air where it is breathed in. Entering into the town it is easy to find yourself wanting to dance the salsa in the street with the dancers or sing along with the musicians, now whether you are good at either is another matter. It was easy to be swept into the moment and what a beautiful moment it was. It is hard to describe it except to compare it with a childhood memory where you were happy and simply content: a memory that looking back at gives you warm fuzzies in your tummy. I did not necessarily fall in love with Galway more fell in love with the memory it provided me with.
I look forward to the rest of my travels and not just during this time I am in Ireland, but for the rest of my life. I love travelling. I love exploring places trying to find what makes them tick much like people they have layers that you always are trying to peel back trying to find the core. I never feel like I reach the center and probably never will, but the fun is in the trying. Trying to understand the city/town gives you insight into the people that live there and the people give you insight into the place like a beautifully complex cycle that I will never tire of. I have found that as I travel and explore these places trying to uncover their secrets I am slowly discovering pieces of myself in the process.