Sunday, March 22, 2009

Knowing Where to Look

There are some social situations I have never been able to master. For example, when you're walking down a long stretch of road and you see someone approaching you from far away. You don't want to meet their eyes because they're still a good five minutes away from you and it would be strange to spend the rest of the time walking towards each other staring into each others eye's. However, it's most natural to look in front of you when walking, and also a good preventative measure to keep from bumping into things. Therefore, I usually compromise by awkwardly darting my eyes around to the front and then coming back to an imaginary fascinating view to my right (for some reason I always pick the right).

These are some of the uncomfortable situations you don't have to worry about when you're surrounded by good friends instead of strangers. Two of my friends visited from the States this last week. It's was strange at first to have my two worlds of home and study abroad collide, a bit like traveling to the Amazon rainforest and seeing a Pizza Hut stationed in the center. However, it was amazing to be able to show them around Galway as well as Ireland and get to experience things through a new set of eyes. There's a kind of excitement, a need to take advantage of every moment, to see every site, that I was able to piggyback upon while my friends were here. We watched the St. Patrick's Day parade and biked around the Aran Islands, and whether it was the beautiful sunny weather, the presence of my friends, or the feel of walking without shoes oh the beach; I had some of my happiest moments in Ireland during this past week.

They say it takes twenty days to form a new habit. This doesn't apply to forming substance abuse addictions or to falling in love. Instead it's about the little things: Knowing which way to look when crossing the street; Automatically not leaving a tip when you're in an Irish restaurant; Looking for the switch that turns on the oven. These tiny details seep into you, diffusing slowly into your bloodstream, sinking into your subconscious. Like the tiny scratches you'll sometimes receive when walking through the woods, you don't remember when or how you picked them up but they've somehow become a part of you.

I tend to lose things a lot. Just yesterday we walked into town and went to the weekend Farmer's Market. It's on a side street to the right of Shop Street, a small cobblestone outcropping dotted with stalls sellin everything from medallions to gourmet olives. I purchased this amazingly fancy cheese and fresh rasberries, a delicacy in a country where the potatoe passes for all the fruits and vegetables you will ever need. However, somewhere between stopping to soak in the sun in Eyre Square, and looking through the mall for comfortable walking shoes, I set the bag down and lost it.

Sometimes being abroad is a little like losing something. Only instead of a bag of berries and gourmet cheese, it's a piece of your identity. You start to forget little things about yourself like whether or not you say CARmel or CARAmel or which pizza toppings really are the best or if you snore. Luckily, close friends are like having a safe box for all those personal details. They keep them safe so that even when you forget, you know where you can find the pieces of yourself.


  1. awesome post! i agree with many of the sentiments, especially since i was actually thinking about the caramel thing a couple weeks ago (seriously, i can´t remember which one i use).

    and your metaphors were fantastic! I am glad you had such a fun-filled week :)