Leaving Seattle didn’t seem like a difficult thing to do when I planned our second trip to Ireland last fall. When we bought the tickets, I still had a job I hated. I had no way of knowing that I would have fallen in love with a new job by fall — one I enjoyed so much that I would be a bit sad to not be there no matter where I went. Neil on the other hand, couldn’t leave work fast enough after a series of profoundly demoralizing events left him seriously questioning why he’d devoted more than 15 years to the company he worked for.
We were leaving for a month, not an easy thing for anyone to do. But even knowing that people had limited vacation time, I was surprised how often people expressed genuine shock that we were spending so much time away. Maybe they were just surprised we had the financial resources to do this — and honestly, we don’t make enough money to be the sort of people who can for travel for any length of time, but we do know how to save. But it seemed like it wasn’t just about money. Were they worried they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves away from their routines? Where they afraid of missing creature comforts? Were they concerned about being in such close quarters with their partners – or themselves – for so long?
We leaned into these questions. We sought the edge of our contentedness, wanted to know who we were away from who we were. We wanted to see each other under new skies, in someone else’s rain, covered in the the muck of excitement, challenge and exhaustion. But mostly, we left for a month because we have consciously chosen to enjoy our time NOW. I am a 7 year cancer survivor and suffer from a permanent debilitating reaction to an antibiotic. Neil has rheumatoid arthritis – mainly in his eyes – that may leave him with mobility issues, or worse, blind. We know that our time is precious. We don’t have time to waste. We want to spend it on experiences that play like movies across the screen of our eyelids at night.
As we taxied out to the runway at SeaTac, it seemed as if all difficulties were behind us.
That is, until the plane stopped.
And then pretty much didn’t move for another 2 hours.
By the time we finally hit Dublin, we’d been in transit for 20 hours and had slept less than 2 of them. We hopped in the car and drove across the island, a two hour trip we turned into 10 in our usual way of never taking a road wide enough for a semi and and a bus to pass each other. We were so happy to be back in the land of peat bogs and heather, ancient stone crosses and amazing beer, we pushed until there was no more push left.
By the time we turned into the driveway at our cottage in Kinvarra, Neil was slapping his own face to stay awake (I offered to do it for him, but oddly, he declined).
But after 12 hours of sleep we woke up in Ireland……