Growing up my dad always used to tell me I have "the blood of Irish warriors coursing through my veins." Even though genealogy shows that I have very little actual Irish blood in said veins, I have always identified myself as Irish.
Recently — shortly after my 30th birthday and literally on my mother's 60th — we headed to the ol’ Emerald Isle. Our plan (or lack thereof): Fly into Dublin. Stay in a castle. Fly out of Dublin 10 days later. No cell phones, no Ipads, no car. Just two girls, a sense of adventure, and no worries.
First, let me say that whatever people say about Ireland, whatever it looks like in the movies, however you've imagined it — that's pretty much what I experienced. It was green, rained every day, live music at every pub (and there were many a pub), sheep in every field (and there were many a field), and some of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. There were castles, and no lie, the castles had dogs. There were pubs, and no lie, the pubs had fabulous traditional Irish music nightly.
One of the hardest things for me, a child of the techno-era, was to be unplugged for 10 days. To see things I wish I could text, Instagram, Facebook, Tweet, Foursquare check-in, Yelp review…it actually pained me. On the other hand, I lived in the moment. I made friends. I had some amazing conversations with my mother. Amazing conversations with total strangers I’ll never see again. I sipped tea in an Irish castle, I walked through a medieval graveyard, and I got super close to an Irish sheep.
I took in what was in front of me…without hesitation or question. I ate things I never thought I’d eat (think black pudding), I followed a strange Irish man to the “real pub,” I slapped my knees and sang along to the tin flute even though I didn’t know the words, and I got on a bus to Dingle with absolutely no clue how long to bus ride was. And it was fabulous.
I travel a ton. People say that I work so that I can vacation. I disagree, although I have been known to use all of my off days. Just as vacation fulfills me, so does my career. I don’t have a ton of money. I don’t have the newest gadgets or a big fancy house. I choose to vacation. Vacation recharges me. It helps me see things clearly. It puts my life in perspective.
Whether it is a road trip to Texas, a week spent in Aruba on the beach, or a backpacking trip through Europe, every time this girl challenges the map…she wins. She wins because she grows. She learns something from each adventure. She makes new friends and rekindles friendships with old ones. She experiences what life is like outside of her box.
I can tell you this: when I look back at some of my most special and poignant memories, they were on vacation. They were about the things I got to see and the people I got to meet. It was that time we went camping in South Dakota, or the time I met a horse names Penny. The time I played Crazy 8’s (literally for days) with my mom on the longest train ride ever to Seattle. Reading “On the Road” while looking out over a California sunset. Burying my feet in the sand in Edisto Beach, South Carolina. Ghost hunting in San Antonio. Drinking my first beer in Munich. It doesn’t matter how far you go or how long you’re gone…what’s much more important is your attitude.
Here’s to many more memories to come!
In the ongoing saga of girl vs. map: Girl-Many, Map-0.