Saturday, October 8, 2011

How I was almost eaten by the Loch Ness Monster

So how was the vacation?  I think I've heard that question a hundred times since my plane back from Dublin touched down.  Catherine and I spent two and a half glorious weeks in Ireland and Scotland, and the break from my daily life couldn't have come at a better time.  There is something wonderfully freeing about knowing you will be gone for a substantial amount of time at your office and all the stressing and all the preparation is finally done.  Letting go felt wonderful - letting go of work stress, relationship stress, responsibilities and more.  To paraphrase Amanda in my favorite chick-flick, The Holiday, a vacation means you're supposed to vacate your life, right?  Do things that are unexpected. 

Two years ago, I never would have dreamt I'd have the opportunity to take such a trip.  I'm a stressed-out person on a normal basis, so the overwhelming planning for a long vacation started to take a toll.  Add in the additional considerations of traveling overseas (for me, this was the first time I'd gone overseas aside from a family trip when I was 10), plus the fact that I had one week to train a new temporary worker at our company to cover for me, and I thought I'd have a breakdown before even getting on the plane.  Somehow I managed to keep it together, even with a delayed flight, a taxi ride to Philadelphia to make our connection in time, massive traffic, and running through the Philly airport to make our flight.  And then my very worst fear about traveling happened - they lost my luggage.  My precious, brand-new suitcase, so eager to see the world, had decided that Tel Aviv would be way more fun than Dublin.  Walking away from the lost luggage desk with my forms and contact info, all I could do was breathe.  A great calm washed over me - it was all out of my hands.  I did nothing wrong, I was not being punished, I had not been the one to make a mistake.  Stressing or crying or screaming wouldn't help my bag get to me any sooner, so I decided to just enjoy the trip as is.

Ireland and Scotland were far more beautiful than I had ever imagined.  There was just so much to see and do, it was hard to figure out just where to go first.  Catherine and I had done some preliminary planning and set up our itinerary, but other than that, we hadn't nailed down day to day activities, which suited both of us just fine.  My favorite day of the trip came while we were on the West Coast in the area of County Galway.  We drove through some of the greenest, most beautiful places in the world.  And even though the rain and gale-force winds started to blow, it took on a surreal sort of beauty.  At long last we arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, where I've always wanted to go.  It was the end of a lifelong dream to be standing there overlooking such timeless majesty.  I know I'm waxing poetic here, but there just aren't any words to explain how, for the first time since June, I felt totally, completely happy.  So happy in fact, that I braved the weather to climb the wet iron spiral staircase onto the top of O'Brien's tower.  Catherine and the guy selling tickets were in the tower at the base of the stairs telling me I was crazy.  But truth be told, I've never felt more calm or more at peace with everything than I did in those raging gale-force winds (clocked at 51 mph) and  stinging rain.  I braced myself on the ancient stone turret and just let myself enjoy it.         

View from the top!

It was around this point of our trip when I seriously considered never returning home.  Getting away from daily stresses put a lot of things in perspective.  Better still, Catherine and I also hunkered down in a sweet little B&B outside of Edinburgh, which forced us to walk more and also blocked us from using phone, Internet and television for a glorious weekend.  We even wrote a postcard to my boss back home saying I had "disappeared" somewhere near Loch Ness (which we didn't actually visit) and that I wouldn't be returning to work.  Although I wished we could stay forever, Catherine and I did return back to work and our normal lives.  But something had changed.  I had seen a life without stress.  A life where the hardest decision I had to make was which beer to have with dinner.  Plus my absence had brought about positive changes (for me at least) at the office and I am enjoying my job more than ever.  I promised my father I'd keep the "vacation attitude" for at least a week after getting back, and I'm trying to hold that promise still.  There's more I could write, but I'll have to save it for another post.  Before I go, here's a rundown of goals completed since my last post:
  •  #1: Travel - Ireland and Scotland!!
  •  #2: Road Trip - We've booked the hotels and ironed out the details of a New Years' road-trip!
  •  #3: I finished my 10th book on the plane back from Ireland
  •  #10: Bed and Breakfast - in Edinburgh
More adventures are to come!  Stay tuned for Catherine's new update on some of the fun (and slightly scary) stuff we ate on vacation :)     

1 comment:

  1. I vote we go back and stay in Ireland forever.