About 17 years ago, a friend of mine called me somewhat out of the blue to say she was taking a trip to Ireland and asked if I’d like to go along. I’d been on a couple of trips there with groups of about 50 in what amounted to a cross between a tourist adventure and a well-behaved Viking pub crawl, but this would be a totally different trip. Four of us traveling the island by car.
At the time, I was living in Newport News, Virginia. My only source of income was working as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant, barely making enough to pay rent.
So of course I said yes.
What happened next was nothing short of a minor miracle. I worked the next six weeks straight, 7 days a week – 6 days of double shifts picking up whatever I could from the slackers I worked with and then on Sunday I’d “rest” working a single shift. It paid off, and I was able to scrape enough money together for the trip. I drove from Virginia to Boston for our flight to Dublin and away we went.
In the year I lived in VA, this stands out as my best decision. The trip was a complete success, traveling a beautiful country with three friends who made for amazing travel companions. We stayed in small towns and hostels where the bathroom was essentially a closet where you could shower and sit on the toilet all at once. I learned to drive on the opposite side of the road and how incredible travel could be. At the end of a week, we arrived back in Boston where I cleared a foot of snow off my car and drove back to VA to pick up a shift because I was broke.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
There was this one night Galway that I’ll never forget. We were staying at a hostel right on Quay Street in the heart of the bar district. After going out for some dinner and drinks, we’d come back to rest up for the last day or so of the trip. Everyone was tired and worn down, but I couldn’t sleep. Laying there wide awake in the dark, I remembered that the window had an extraordinarily large sill – something like 2 feet wide with the curtain on one side and the window on the other. With nothing else to do, I grabbed my notebook and slipped through the curtain. Sitting there sideways in the window, I could look directly onto Quay Street with the curtain closed just as the bars let out.
So I sat there scribbling away with a couple Guinness under my belt and a pen in my hand. It was a magical moment when I actually felt like “Yes, this is it – I’m actually capturing this moment!” Maybe it only lasted an hour or so, but it was this clear moment of knowing exactly where I was in the world both physically and artistically.
The next day, we packed up and drove on.
Those moments don’t come along very often, but I got lucky and caught one.