It’s been hectic since I returned from Europe last week. It took me roughly 3 days to fully recover from jetlag. I rested the entire weekend but made an exception to catch up with my friend Erika. She shared a post on Facebook that she was gallery sitting at SF Camerawork's new exhibition space at the Presidio. Coincidentally, Tina had lunch plans with her colleagues at Wild and Seed on Union Street so it made sense to drive to the city together. On Monday, I plunged into post-production mode processing images of the cottage in Ireland and the photographs for GT's project. My luggage is still on the garage floor with a few more items such as a tripod, light stand, and miscellaneous things waiting to be stored away.
I barely had time to write in my journal or read the e-books I borrowed from the public library. I did, however, record bullet points after each day's events on the Notes app on my iPhone. I always love to have something in writing to complement the pictures. For today's post, I'll keep it loose and share with you some moments and reflections from the trip.
We celebrated Malyn's 50th birthday at this gorgeous cottage. She rented it from her colleague, Ben who inherited the property from his father in West Ireland. It sits a few miles away from the Cliff of Moher with stunning views of Galway Bay, Aran Island, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Aside from this picturesque location, it was Malyn’s long-standing friendships that struck me the most. Tessa, Malyn's high school friend, had business meetings scheduled in London but were canceled at the last minute. Still, she pushed through with her plans and flew from Manila to London and onto Dublin to be with her. Lea, a college friend from Manila and roommate from when she first moved to New York City from Boston, told her husband several months prior she would travel to Ireland for Malyn's birthday. She made it clear: it was non-negotiable. Carina, another college friend from the same university and based in New Jersey, wouldn't miss this milestone either.
There is a Gaelic term called Anam Cara–Anam for “soul“ and Cara for “friend.“ John O'Donohue writes, “With the anam cara you could share your inner-most self, your mind and your heart. This friendship is an act of recognition and belonging. When you have an anam cara, your friendship cuts across all conventions, morality and category.“ Listening to conversations at the dinner tables throughout the trip as they recounted past heartbreaks, struggles and successes fused with light moments of laughter reminded me of this term. What a beautiful thing to be in the presence of these precious friendships.
Our travel dates landed squarely during mercury retrograde. It occurs 3 to 4 times a year and astrologers believe that the planet Mercury's reverse motion causes technological disruptions and miscommunications within these three weeks. At first, we had plans to do a road trip from Paris to Ireland but with MR, we scrapped the idea. We opted instead to keep it simple and travel by air.
True to form, MR was alive and well.
Malyn and Marina experienced a 4-hour flight delay from New York to Dublin. Once they arrived, it took them roughly 45 minutes to clear immigration. On our end, Uber drivers were not picking up passengers at my brother's location in the 17th arrondissement. Ate Marica and I, together with GT, dragged our luggages 500 meters along Rue de Levis to the taxi stand. He stayed until our cab drove away. He walked back to his apartment and was fortunate to flag an Uber ride an hour later to catch his flight to Dublin via Charles de Gaulle Airport. At Orly, both our backpacks were flagged for security checks. We barely made it to our assigned gate located at the very end of the terminal. Despite these glitches, we all arrived in Dublin roughly within a few hours from each other. We shared a taxi ride to our hotel– a pleasant and welcome surprise after a long travel day.
In West Ireland, our rented van hit a flat tire along the way to the local seafood market. Heavy rains and Malyn developing a cold canceled our Burren hike. The Cliffs of Moher walking tour was not what we expected it to be. Parts of the trail were muddy and slippery. Our tiny strides could not keep up with the rest of the group. The rubber sole of Ate Marica’s left hiking boot broke apart that she had to walk unevenly the rest of the way. I stayed with her until we finished the trail. In hindsight, we should have aborted the walk when we had the chance at the start. But, as Pat Sweeney, the guide from the walking tour, said, “You’ll have a story to tell.”
A dinner reservation at a pub was also canceled. After cleaning up and resting for an hour, a group of us made an impromptu drive to Lahinch Beach to watch the sunset. The rest gathered at the limestone fence behind the cottage, took photographs and drank wine until sun down.
After we returned to Paris, GT summed it up well during an afternoon dog walk with Pina outside his apartment . "Everything always works out in the end. It'll happen the way it's supposed to happen. We just have to be open about it."
The best gift is spending time with family, particularly after Covid. For me, it's been three get-togethers in a row– the most I've spent with them in just one year. Perhaps reaching middle-age has something to do with it. I am more conscious and intentional about time and how, when and who I spend it with. I read an article about learning to be better at transitions and one question stood out for me: How many 7-year periods do you have before you hit 100? It’s sobering when I paused and did the math. Given that we live apart, the resources and logistics needed to see each other and without a job for two years, I feel incredibly blessed to have this gift of time with them. I don't take anything for granted these days.
Check out these two storyboards I curated on Flipboard:
3 Noteworthy Reads on Life Changes and Transitions