Eight months ago, one of my best friends and I went on a trip. I wrote a little about the Ireland leg of our travels and I began to compose a post about our brief time in Northern Ireland, but no matter how much I wrote, I could never really truly satisfy my thoughts and what I saw into words. I would write and delete, write and delete, write and delete until finally I just put it aside. Eight months later, I’m reviewing my words and am still insatiable. I have traveled a fair amount and have written thousands upon thousands of words about my impressions and experiences in strange lands– why was Northern Ireland wracking my brain so much? A small country of the United Kingdom with its natural beauty and fantastical lore has left me aghast. Even now, as I type this instead of working on graduate school essays, I do not have a clear answer for why writing about Northern Ireland is, at this point, becoming a comically arduous task. Will the day come when I can find my words? Hopefully. Is that day today? Nope. But, I thought I would publish what I had starting writing eight months ago, when thoughts of this country were freshly on my mind, like the salty air of the Antrim Coast.
There is something enlivening when traveling to a new place. Your senses are heightened and it is as if you put on goggles to see the world from a fresh perspective, one that no one has seen before, only you. These moments resonate, but eventually fade, like the strike of a gong. When I travel, I take a piece of the country with me. It resides in the depths of my past memories and hibernates, only to be awoken when nostalgia comes calling. I’ve spent many nights browsing through old photos of the people and places I have acquainted myself with over the years, reminiscing about the flavors I’ve tasted or the colors I’ve eyed or the smells I’ve wafted. It’s easy to become fixated on the past and these memories stored in your brain or hard drive and sometimes, a memory is not enough. You want to live those moments again and never let go of those flavors or colors or scents that were once alive. It’s difficult to resurrect a moment in time, however, there is a trick: to leave a part of yourself behind. Instead of taking a piece with you, leave part of yourself behind and you will certainly be transported back in time. You will no longer feel a longing for what once was; you will feel complete.
On Saturday June 25th, I went to Northern Ireland. It was only a day trip, but in those fourteen hours, my entire concept of living in a moment changed. As most day trips begin, we woke up bright and early and walked over to the Dublin city center, where we caught a bus with a tour company. We routinely boarded, were acquainted with our driver and guide, and made our way up the coast to the United Kingdom. Upon arriving in Northern Ireland, our guide Richard (adorned in tweed head to toe) familiarized us with Northern Ireland’s history, its relationship with Ireland, and of course, folklore. He was a fantastic storyteller, which made the journey pleasant, but something else had me hooked: the nature.
At this point, I think it is best to show you Northern Ireland than to attempt to describe it. You will soon see why this place is truly beyond words and even a photo cannot capture the hues of the sea or lush rolling hills or the pale aesthetic of the overcast clouds or the colorful promises to never repeat the past.
Pictured above: Belfast, Giants’ Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede/Ballintoy, Antrim Coast