My ticket home was booked earlier today. My amazing mother handled everything and is using some precious air miles to fly me from Dublin to London to Los Angeles and, finally, to San Francisco. I'll be home by midnight on April 4th, and I couldn't be more excited.

When I graduated college, I was determined to do something other than stay in Santa Cruz or move back home with my parents, and when that entailed moving across the country I honestly didn't think twice. Job opportunities were scarce, and facing the bottomless pit of job applications seemed so futile that, when my friend presented me with offer to move in with her parents in New York, my only thought was, sure- it wasn't like I had anything better to do. 

Except that I did. I had a spectacular boyfriend, amazing friends, a family that I actually got along with and enjoyed spending time with, an entire community and a home in one of the most beautiful towns in California. But I didn't see any of that- all I saw was the opportunity for a more exciting story.

I don't regret my time in New York one iota. I could write poems about that city for the rest of my life and never truly capture the mystique it instilled in me. It was ugly and beautiful and the reflection of millions of achieved and failed dreams and I loved it. But being there did teach me about the value of what I had left behind.

Before I got on that airplane, it hadn't even occurred to me that homesickness would be an issue, but before too long it became an accepted part of my life. I missed the support of my family, the companionship of my friends, and the unexpected quirks of a social life that I thrived on. I missed my best friend and boyfriend, and the wasted hours we spent together. I made some friends while I was there, but none of the relationships I forged could hold a candle to the trusted camaraderie that had been cultivated over years of mistakes, acceptance, and silliness.

By the time Conor came to visit me in New York, I ached for love, for someone who really knew me and all my faults to share this city I had fallen in love with. Our time together didn't disappoint, and by the time I got back to California I felt the relief of an addict. A week with my Santa Cruz family and a week with my mom and dad in my hometown filled me to the brim with gratefulness and appreciation for the people in my life. Every cup of coffee and night out left me on the verge of Oscar-acceptance style weeping- "Thank you, everyone I'm with -in fact, everyone in this bar- for making this life spectacular!"

I managed to subdue my qualms with excitement on my flight to Ireland. I was so excited for the opportunities I was about to have in a country I had always wanted to visit. I haven't been at all disappointed with the beauty of the landscape or the people, and I'm doing work I'm really passionate about. A lot of my highly skilled friends are working in coffeeshops and restaurants right now, and I'm in awe at the serendipity that led to my current surroundings. 

Still, I am anxious to return home. I've always believed in being where you are with the people you're with, and I continue to try and live by that rule every day, but it's more difficult now than it used to be. My heart is at home. I knew I would learn things about myself on these unexpected journeys, but I never thought this would be on the syllabus. 

There are a hundred places left in this world that I want to see, but since I've started my adventure I've learned where my true north is. 


A Million Shades of Green and Grey.

I feel like I should apologize for all the landscape photos in my posts, except it would sound something like, "I'm sorry, it's just so incredibly beautiful here and I can't stop wanting to capture nature in all its glory," which isn't really an apology, and in fact you can definitely expect more of the same for the next month or so. But seriously, how gorgeous is Ireland?! 

Last Saturday Noémie and I went on another roadtrip, this time to Sligo. Sligo's only about an hour and a half from Killala, but being adventurous we took everything but the main route to get there. We drove out on random "roads" (paths that happened to be wide enough to fit a car) looking for ocean. At one point we were driving along and spotted what looked like a crumbling tower. We took the next road and sure enough some ruin was slowly and forlornly weathering away. We climbed through the front door (not very difficult as you can see) and spent several creepy minutes inside.

On a side note, this kind of activity of finding some random yet exquisitely preserved and completely ignored monument just chilling in the Irish countryside is very common. I've asked Morag about this phenomenon, and she said that County Mayo is especially horrible at paying any attention to its history. These gorgeous and ancient buildings are given the minimum amount of safety precautions and then let alone. On one hand this is AWESOME because the 12-year-old inside of me freaks out at being able to fully explore a 600 year old abbey or an ancient watch tower no holes barred. On the other hand, I often wish there was some sort of plack or something letting me know a little about the building I'm crawling over. Still, it's very very cool.

Sligo was adorable and we got to watch some crazy people try to maneuver some midget kayaks up the river that ran through the town. We also drove out to Strandhill, a small village just south of Sligo.  We conquered a giant sand dune and were rewarded with spectacular views. Right around the bend was Connemara, home of some prehistoric tombs. Since it was off season, I described the site as "closed", but Noémie described it as "free" so we hopped the fence and had a look around. Our delinquency was rewarded with spectacular views... of what looked like piles of rocks. Oh well.

We drove back through the country and stopped by the lovely Lake Talt. Our day finally ended with a photoshoot I've been meaning to have in a beautiful cemetery I pass every day on the way to Ballina. In the last photo, everything about that statue was perfect (including carved buttons on his waistcoat) except for his face. Creepy, right?

P.S. Can you handle the cuteness of those cats we made friends with in Easky?! Because we couldn't. Especially me. I was barely able to hold it together long enough to take that photo.



I took a little road trip on Sunday with my French friend Noémie. We went to Westport, on the west coast of Mayo. It's the only town in Mayo that's won the Tidy Town Award three times (true story. There's actually a Tidy Town Competition. And it's apparently very competitive). Anyway it was totally adorable. It ended up being an incredibly beautiful day and we walked all over the grounds of Westport House, this old English estate just outside of town. We were the only ones there and everything was closed, but it was so beautiful and haunting. We tromped around for hours taking photos. And on our drive back, we stopped to admire the ruins of a castle at sunset.

An incredibly beautiful day.


Drive By.

Morag took me on a long drive across Mayo today to visit one of the tiniest and most beautiful beaches I've ever seen. We stopped and had a picnic lunch in the car with the kids and I walked around long enough to be legitimately concerned about being blown over by the insane wind. I'd guess the population of Portacloy, the town that hugs the hills surrounding the little picturesque scene, numbers under 100. We ended up in the town of Belmullet before taking another scenic route back.

A very very beautiful day.