A peek inside my apartment would reveal that I long to visit Ireland. A dogeared, marked up copy of "Ireland for Dummies" sits on my dusty bookshelf. The hues of green rolling countrysides, grey-blue seascapes and colorful cottages are reflected in pillows, couches and cozy throws. As a dreamer, I've spent a considerable time imagining how a gal like me might make her way to Ireland or with whom she might do so--certainly not a rigid group tour that allowed for no personal exploration. The times I've written that story in my mind, it was me in a rural cottage, spending hours reading and relaxing. Maybe even writing a book that only my mother would buy.
But the storyline got complicated after a few chapters: What if I got scared at night? Could I learn to drive on the left side-even if only for a week or two? Would the entire experience leave me feeling like a lonely spinster? There were other options: Perhaps a trip with a girlfriend. If not that, then a someday-honeymoon. But, both options seemed flawed. My girlfriends' hubbies weren't likely to warm to the idea of their wives vacationing without them. And at twenty-four, being the furthest from marriage I've been in my life, I am not sure a Prince Charming even exists. Why should a girl wait around for an extinct, or at best--seriously endangered, species to wed her and sweep her off to the place of her dreams? What year is this...1920?
But how I actually would get to Ireland, and with whom...that I could not have forseen. Only the unpredictable insanity provided by reality could write that story.
This winter, my best friend attempted to set me up with a good friend of hers, who I'd not yet met. He is currently, and somewhat indefinitely, overseas in Iraq. During this time I was seeing someone, school owned my existence, Iraq owned his, but we laughed, exchanged contact information and became friendly, long-distance pen pals. He wrote me during the daytime, stuck at long shifts during stifling, dusty Iraqi days...and I wrote to him late at night, in between my homework of paintings and papers. In time, he moved to a new base, spring arrived, my school year came to a close...and then he asked me a funny question:
"What would you say if I said we should go to Ireland together?"
At first, I responded with a quick and flippant yes--the kind of silly answer you give when someone asks you if you would like a million dollars. But then, realizing we both had an ample amount of vacation time with no exciting plans...the wheels began to turn. It would make an incredible story. We're young. We're risk-takers. We seem to get along well enough to spend a few days together in the name of adventure...
And so we did it. I applied for a passport, we both requested two weeks off. He began scheduling a mind-boggling number of flights to get one Wisconsin girl and one Iraqi boy to Boston, both to Ireland and back again. Hotel rooms were booked, a rental car reserved. My passport arrived...navy and gold embossed, smelling like crisp paper and a crazy sense of adventure.
My imagination could not have written this one: I am vacationing in a foreign country with a man I've never met. We leave in thirty-four days. :)
I love being single.