New York

Some days it feels like we never lived in California. Our life here is so far removed from anything we experienced there. Walking to walk, damp and drizzly, trying not to slip on Dublin’s cobble stones couldn’t be further from my hot and sweaty cycle through Oakland’s colourful neighbourhoods and along Jack London’s stunning waterfront. I get flashes of it all sometimes and it feels more like a weird dream than a true memory. I often find myself thinking ‘we did all that? How crazy.’ 

We flew to New York City at the end of October. It was a sort of mini break before diving head first into our new (old) home in Dublin. Rich had never been and I was excited to revisit, especially in Autumn. All that awful first trimester nausea had finally subsided and I was ready to stretch my legs and adventure for a few days.

We walked everywhere and ate our weight in everything. It was so sweet to wander and talk and have one big long uninterrupted date. We ate Shake Shack and nutella crepes and dive-y pizza and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches from Chelsea Market and amazing cookies and maybe Shake Shack again and about a million other things in between. We walked the entire length of The Highline, took the Subway across the water to DUMBO and walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked to see the Flatiron and rushed our way through Times Square (not for the claustrophic, crowd hating, slow walking averse!), we walked along the waterfront and visited Ground Zero. On our last day our paths crossed with a friend from home and we found ourselves ducking in from the downpour for pints in a pub as if we were back in Dublin. It was busy and bustling and the weather was crisp and autumnal. We had a ball and can’t wait to go back some day. Here are some photos if you’d like to see… 

It’s good to be Home.

We flew into Dublin airport on a Thursday morning. Two weeks ago today. Rich spotted a Dublin bus from the air as we landed. We revelled at all the green fields and trees and grey drizzly sky. Though it was nothing compared to the torrential downpour we left behind in New York. A whistle stop tour in which we walked and ate and walked and ate and walked some more. In other words, the best kind of tour. I’ll post some photos if I ever find that roll of film we shot. 

Rich kept saying he wasn’t sure if he was ready. Was this ok? Were we right in coming home? [did we have a choice?] All good things must come to an end and I gave him a firm ‘yes.’  I had no doubt really. This is home. Nowhere else will ever be that. The streets, the people, the smells and sounds,  the familiar clouds in the sky—together they make up our home and my place in this world. The place I want my baby to know and love [keep reading, I’ll get there]. I feel comfortable, even though our situation is anything but right now. Precariously living back at home—and someone else’s home at that!—after year of independent bliss is challenging. To say the least of it. 

We came home with excess baggage in the form of five suitcases, one large cardboard box, a bicycle, helmet & skateboard, two backpacks and an unborn seventeen week old potential somebody. Surprised? Tell me about it!

We surprised my brother on his doorstep at 10 am. Tears sprung from his eyes upon seeing us. It was worth the lying and the butterflies. My niece hugged me with her chubby little arms spread wide and showed Rich everything in her bedroom, pointing and laughing. That was all the confirmation I could ever need. Our people are here and this is our place. 

One day soon I’ll write about all the things I learned and all the ways we grew. There will be time for photos and sharing and keeping track of what’s what. For now we are home and that is enough. 

I scribbled this out one day as a response to ‘show me love’ [an assignment for a poster making class]—it lived above our bed for a year; an often necessary and worthwhile reminder.

On Living Abroad (and 5 travel instagrammers worth following).

It took me a long time to fall in love with California.

When I was working in the city I used to wander aimlessly on my lunch breaks wishing I were home, or at least somewhere friendlier and more familiar. I craved a semblance of community. I missed the squishy babies and their open mouthed slobbery kisses. I longed to call over to my siblings for dinner, to drop by my friends houses unannounced. I missed the ease of life at home, of knowing who was where and what was what. This new city left me feeling ill at ease. Some days it felt like I was buckling from the constant stimulation of finding my way and always having to introduce, explain and arrange. I’m an introvert and making friends is hard. Putting myself out there was hard. It still is hard. But it is right—putting myself out there is the only way I will grow. I know that and at times I really don’t like it but I knowledge is power my friends. 

While I didn’t fall in love with foggy San Francisco, somewhere between the mountains and the sea I discovered a new normal, a bold wilderness that I have learned to love with all my heart. We made some friends. We bonded over idealistic obnoxious twenty-something ideals. We solved the worlds problems and shook our heads at the current state of affairs. We laughed as we hiked through forests, over mountains and down to the sea. As my muscles stretched and grew so did my appreciation for this place where we live. 

I still miss the squishy babies and I wish I could drop by my friends houses and have dinners with my siblings. I could never imagine life without them and yet that’s what the past nine months have been. We have created a life here. That fact gives me a real sense of pride. Pushing the boundaries on what I thought was possible and what I thought I could achieve has been one of the best parts of this past year. 

For the first six months living here I just wanted to go home. Every time we hit a stumbling block it would be my first retort, my final cry, my broken record. But little by little—deep in shady forests, on golden sandy beaches, and in a warm-hearted, nurturing work studio—I found that I was no longer simply surviving. In the abstract, I never thought I would ever move to another country (let alone the other side of the world!), that we could get the kind of jobs we have or do the kind things that we are doing. The reality that we are indeed doing all those things blows my mind every day. What does that mean for the next year? Or the year after? 

It's getting increasingly harder to imagine leaving. We will do it and there will be a period of adjustment and it will be hard but good. All things worth doing are so. 

One thing I have learned this year is that home is not a place but a state of being. We are more fluid than we think and much more adept for change than I ever thought possible. Who knows what’s going to come next. 

I would love to know about your adventures. What have you got planned for this summer or the coming months? If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be? Have you ever thought about living abroad?

If you’re interested in getting the travel bug (or some serious insta-envy) here are some people worth a follow:

  • Our friends Ashling & Paul are spending the next three months travelling around South America. 
  • As is a sweet girl from my college Emily and her boyfriend (they travelled around the world a couple of years ago—her instagram is one of my favourites!). 
  • Another college friend, Fiona, is living in New York and her photos are truly stunning. 
  • My sister-not-in-law Nadia is constantly jetting off some place new—check her out. 
  • Courtney Adamo’s instagram is one of my very favourites (pretty much the definition of #lifegoals for me). She and her husband and their four children are spending the next year travelling around the world—I can’t wait to see what is in store for them. 

Grand Canyon National Park

This past month has flew in. Where has June gone? It’s already July tomorrow! Crazy-town. Please bear with me while I play a little catch up…normal service may or may not resume soon. I can’t make any promises. 

We got up early, grabbed breakfast and headed into the longest stretch of our road trip bound for the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon has been top of my to-do list for such a long time so I was especially excited for this stop-off. We were almost at the north-rim when we pulled off the free-way for petrol and a much needed leg stretch when we noticed a very large and imposing sign stating that the Grand Canyon North Rim was Closed until May 15. It was the 12th. We laughed, half horrified and half devastated. After some questionably sweet baked goods and the promise that the South Rim was “only around four hours away” we set back off on the road. We chatted, ate, listened to podcasts—spotted some tumble weed!!—snoozed and eventually arrived at the South Rim, tired and stiff. 

Holy shit. The Grand Canyon is seriously, well, grand. It was too much for my eyes to comprehend. We didn’t take many photographs because it didn’t feel like there was a point. You cannot capture this stuff on film (actual or metaphorical) because it’s just that big. The tiny snaking shoelace of a river is actually a raging waterway up close. Minor divots and cracks are actually sheer ravines and gaping huge caverns.

We didn’t hike or spend a huge amount of time at The Grand Canyon. We didn’t have time as there was another four hours of road between us and our flight back to Oakland. Dinner consisted of crisps and subway in the car while driving, which was quite an apt way to end a few days of truly terrible eating. (Rural Utah, you have excellent nature but terrible restaurants.) 

In short, The Grand Canyon was beautiful. You really should go, put it on your list and make your way there. No amount of google-image searching, pretty blog stalking or pinterest planning can do places like this justice. Nature like this needs to be experienced to be appreciated. 

We’ve got less than five months left on this side of the world and you can bet we’ve got a boat-load of adventures up our sleeves. Just you wait! 

Photos of my Really Hot Friends in Lisbon / 2

College is kicking my ass. I feel totally and utterly overwhelmed with a big project to do, tasks to complete AND two essays still to do. Christmas and my sisters homecoming are on the horizon and my excitement is beginning to bubble to the surface.

Can someone please just beam me back on holidays with these folks until it’s all over and I can relax? Cheers. Thanks.

PS Photo number two and three are my faves.