Wow, that was a lame title, but alas "It sounded better in my head" is rarely a good excuse. On this Christmas day I am sitting on my bed having exhausted my Pinterest and Nook as of now. My Christmas goodies have been sorted and played with (or enjoyed rather, since I'm twenty fucking years old I don't have toys anymore) since last night. My family celebrates Christmas now on Christmas Eve, so Christmas day is pretty chill which I enjoy.
I am slightly regretting now not staying in my new Victoria's Secret PJ's as long as humanly possible.
I went onto my Pinterest to pass the time and started filling up more boards, specifically my "Favorite Places" one which was empty. I went to Google Images and typed in the various places I visited this last April-May and started pinning the pictures. There was this surreal moment I had when I pinned a picture of a black sand beach in Santorini. The red lawn chairs looked familiar, but what got me was the large rounded cliff on the left.
Then it hit me: though I was looking for a random black sand beach picture, I can stumbled upon the exact one my friends and I visited. Not only was it the same one, but it was the same spot. I remember the bar we went to for drinks for Cassie's 22nd birthday right behind those chairs and dinner we ate farther down. We spent most of the day there and were horrible sunburned (Natalie more than the rest of us), coming back at night to party. The Cork party scene wasn't much like home and Santorini offered us that club feel we had been missing. We danced the night away and stuffed ourselves into that cab at the end of the night.
Looking at the Google Images is strange, because I have to remind myself, "I was actually there. In that spot. In that beautiful place." While I was traveling, I remember telling myself, my friends, and even journaling about feeling zoned day after day. I knew someday I'd look back on that trip in awe when I had more prospective. It made for a wonderful tagline: "I visited eight countries in thirty days with three friends, barely enough food, a Eurail pass, and a backpack." Yet it felt like it was happening to someone else; it was too great to take in then and for months afterwards.
Only now do I think I'm able to understand how wonderful that trip was for me. My friends and I on that trip were close before, but it brought us (at times, perhaps too much) closer than we could have imagined. We learned more about ourselves and each other in that short time span than our whole time studying abroad in Ireland. Fending for yourself like that is frightening and looking back, I'm amazed I managed it at all. So much stress, tension, sadness, joy, insanity was in that adventure. More than before, I'm grateful for that experience.
In nine days, it'll have been a year since I flew into Ireland and made it to my apartment in Cork where I met Alicia, Cassie, and Natalie. It's nice having Natalie at Iowa with me since she transferred, but I miss my other girls off on the east coast. I knew I'd miss them, but strangely enough I miss them more with each passing month. All strangers, we bonded in a way that is tough to explain. It was out of desperation, in a way, to survive a new place we were apprehensive to explore alone. Like the first day of school, it reminded me of clinging onto one other classmate that you knew in a class or at lunchtime. The difference here though was we were expected for five months to eat, drink, live together, study, travel, make friends, and become a family of our own.
We shared many amazing times and far too many secrets. We bickered like adult siblings visiting for the holidays. We created a life for ourselves that no one can understand but us four. That's one of the hardest parts of coming back, and I can say that now with more credibility after a semester in Iowa: losing that world. After our trip even we were so used to each other we had to force ourselves apart and not talk about the trip to reintegrate back into our friend group. You realize it a lot at first, and I still do from time to time. I know someday I'll see my Irish lasses again and squeal about Eddie Izzard (hopefully with Alicia's British accent) over a glass of white wine. We'll indulge in some chocolate and watch many YouTube videos. I'll open up my scrapbook and we'll smile at the memories and the friends we made.
No matter how much times passes, nothing can take those memories from me.