AlvernoINK Spring / Fall 2017 - Page 7

Cotton Candy Butts:

An Irish Journey

Milwaukee, Chicago, and Newark. Vacating each location that dreary day gave me that feeling of my throat dropping to the back of my neck as the plane sped up to 560 MPH, and it felt more invigorating each time. As I entered a new layer of the world, my heart flipped and flopped, knowing that I would eventually leave it in Ireland, even though I had not yet experienced any aspect of it. I watched passengers around me grip the seats in front of them as if it would somehow put a halt to the turbulence that we would endure for the next eight hours.

Ireland. The new country and the constant reminder to myself that one likes a tourist. No one will ever admit to being “that” person who takes photos of everything that is average to the locals. That feeling of my sunken nails into the warm seat that had become my annoying overnight bedroom kept me from springing out of my seat in excitement when the plane was landing over a field of cotton candy. I heard the well-dressed fellow with the brogue accent explain to his granddaughter that the farmers are only keeping track of their sheep when they paint their back ends bright blue, purple and pink. So, I paid no mind as if this new, magical land was average.

Dromroe Village. A mixture of jet-lag and over-excitement almost made me forget that a typical blue sky was nowhere to be found from the view outside of my window. The soft, turf hills covered the sky for miles, creating a green tint of sunlight on my cloudlike bed, which was much better than the brick I sleep on at home. On the first day, I fell into that cloud with my tight shoes and heavy backpack still attached to my body.

The distinct smell of Limerick, my isolated, yet cozy home filled with steaming potatoes and carved meat, in every campus pub alongside the clatter of the Irish dancers at any point in the day. The sound of sarcasm that was offered by the same crabby chef reminded me that I was actually being served elephant, but I gladly accepted every day. I sipped my latte mixed with Jameson Whiskey at 8:00 AM sharp each morning, while my family back in my home state still sound asleep at 2:00 AM. They were never conscious when something invigorating needed to be told. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t miss them.

County-Clare. Home of the humidity that caused the feeling of my hair clinging to my neck as I sat trapped in a hostel-like brick room, listening to the slow and soft whispers of my home, grown Killarney professor. For five hours a day, my cognizant skills were tested as I help my head up with my forearms to avoid dozing off to the same old Irish myths that I could now recite in my sleep.

Shannon, home of spooky, broken castles like Bunratty. Nothing makes me shiver with delighted derangement in the sight of those dusty prisoner bones, newly discovered from the fortresses dungeon. I could hardly put down my medieval meal knowing that people just like me believed to be entering a temporary cell, only to be given a slight “push” as they fell to their death. Then again, I was willing to do anything; I was in Ireland.

Texas, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania; The names I gave my roommates to keep track of them. Their real names and the dreary looks on their faces that I had the great pleasure of seeing for 28 days straight didn’t matter then, and they don’t matter now. I admired the life of my quirky English professor from London. She mattered to me because she was different. Regardless of the humidity that caused the feeling of my hair clinging to my neck as I sat trapped in a hostel-like brick room, she mattered to me because she instructed us to carve our own bamboo pens to utilize them as the scribes did. She mattered to me because of the things she has done, the places she has studied. She mattered to me because she reminded me that I could do anything.

Dublin. The historic city centered around Brian Boru’s harp, Trinity College, and Viking sites. Still, the doors of Dublin dragged me in and left me alone to explore for the weekend. A bubble-gum colored entrance to a European Pastry shop here, and a plum painted portal to a traditional Irish Storytelling bar there. The clatter on the cobbled road on horse-drawn carriage ride from the famous Temple Bar to my Clontarf Castle Hotel room revealed that I was true royalty, at least in my own dissipated mindset caused by the mojitos I guzzled at the Brolly bar.

Surfing in Lahinch, the seaside Bay that left me gasping to get my warm breath back and desiring a Mediterranean climate that I would never find throughout the entire country. Keeping the faith, I found the strength to give the town a chance, when I found the gentle combination of acidity and sweetness all mixed in one cup; a simple creation known as a cappuccino, but at that very moment, I may as well have been drinking hot gold, compared to the salty fish air that I’d been choking on for the past few hours.

Cork. The homes of this crowded city resembled a stack of Legos; colorful blocks organized in no specific order since the country is too small to lay the people straight. The Chicken Goujons transfigured me into a fancy local, most definitely not an American who relies on chicken tenders in any unfamiliar food milieu.

Galway. The land of the edge of Europe, where traditional street performers dance in the rain alongside the Atlantic Ocean. The Skellig Islands are seen from afar for Star Wars fans to swoon over, unknowing that the rocky beehive huts discovered on the tippy, top steps were, in fact, an ancient home to those who believed they were getting closer to the land beyond the sea.

Aran Islands; a purely isolated and Gaelic speaking piece of land in the salty waters of the Atlantic. It is certainly no ideal home for me, despite the wondering dolphins, medieval ruins of spooky cemeteries and churches, homemade fudge, hikes through the rocky hills, and abandoned ships. Though I am drawn to anything and everything uncanny, the seclusion from the rest of dry land can make a person mad. Not to mention, I could have done without the 40-minute ferry ride made up of heaving passengers and ice-cold wave splashes.

County Kerry. My dearest remembrance of the land that I love. As the paddy wagon twisted and turned through the narrow roads along the Ring of Kerry, I supposed there was no reason for my tears to be falling. Red from embarrassment, I peered at the water in all the rider’s eyes. When faced with the beauty of green rolling hills for miles, wandering cotton candy butts, and waterfalls flowing from every cliff, the only reasonable reaction of the body while experiencing nearly every emotion is to set it free when words can’t ever definitively describe them.

Eire. A new piece of my identity, just like my green eyes and messy hair, which only got bigger due to the island’s unvarying humidity. Ireland; a small speck in this world that I long for as I sit patiently waiting in Wisconsin for my next excursion to my motherland.

Upon returning from a solo trip to Europe, I was hit with a reverse-culture shock that left me feeling as though “Home sweet home” did not exist but in fact, my Ireland sweet Ireland was where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. The emotions evoked were never properly explained upon my return to the U.S, so this creative writing has helped me describe my love for the country and my new sense of self.