Miranda and I stumbled into the hostel room, beyond exhausted. Matt and Stephen’s beds seemed untouched, as if they had never existed there. I felt sad for a moment, but that feeling was soon replaced by excitement for whomever would enter our adventure next. Running off four hours of sleep, a hangover, and lots of terrain covered throughout an 8-hour tour, our energy was depleted. Come 10:30 that evening, Miranda was curled up in her bunk. I kicked around anxiously in mine- “You’re going to sleep already?!” I whispered loudly to her. She spoke in a mumble “I’m…tired. Tour…Tomorrow.”
I flopped backward into my pillow, feeling defeated. The bar below our hostel was alive with bagpipe and fiddle music, I felt enticed by it. I tossed around a few more times. The music picked up pace, parallel with my quickening heartbeat. I threw off the blanket, and jumped out of the bed with purpose. As I half put my shoes on, I stumbled in the darkness over towards Miranda’s bed. “Miranda…Miranda! I’m going out to listen to some music on my own. I just can’t sleep. Something is telling me to get out of bed.” No movement, no response aside from some snoring. I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door.
As I rounded the corner with motivation and went to pass the receptionist booth, I locked eyes with the man sitting behind it, arms crossed, feet up. Dark fluffy hair paired with dark almond shaped eyes, mysterious looking yet I could see his smile in them. I slowed down instinctively due to immediate attraction and curiosity. “Goin’ somewheah?” he smiled up at me. “Of course, he’s Australian. I can’t escape them” I thought to myself. “Oh, uhm, do you know what time the music is on until?” Please don’t let me turn red, I’m turning red. “Hmm…it’s probably off in about half n’ owa” he looked at the clock, then back at me. I explained how my best friend had fallen asleep and I really wanted to go see the sites, I wasn’t satisfied with going to sleep. He nodded and continued that captivating smirk. I lingered, and before I knew it, I was sitting on the staircase across from him, telling him my life story and listening to bits and pieces of his. You can take a wild guess that I didn’t leave the hostel that night after all.
They say there are more sheep in Ireland than Irish people. Well, I think there are secretly more Australians in Ireland than both Irish people and sheep combined. Yet, from the several Australians I had already met, this one seemed different. His name was Zach, and he was modest, seemingly reserved, and appeared kind. His intelligence and humor was alluring, in addition to his free-spirited nature. Our conversation and laughter echoed throughout the quiet staircases and hallways of the hostel, occasional foreigners passing in between. I leaned my head against the stair rail as I listened to his stories of his travels across Europe, the relief he had from not having a cell phone for a few months, and the reasons behind some of his tattoos. This guy was the definition of a rolling stone, and I wanted to roll with him.
It's now 3 AM and Zach and I watch as Sean, my caretaker from the night before, stumbles onto the stair next to me, a big piece of pizza hanging off a flimsy paper plate. “Oh man, whatta night. Where were you guys?! You missed out big time.” He then takes a big bite of pizza, and I suddenly want a slice from one of those dingy places back in NYC. Sean joins in on mine and Zach’s conversation, the three of us getting along wonderfly—we all exchanged Facebook info in that moment. We even played a few rounds of would you rather, I remember watching Zach ponder, admiring his handsome side profile as he did so. “Would you ratha…sweat mayo or have a hairy tongue?” He looked at Sean and me as he awaited an answer. Sean said mayo, I said hairy tongue. Like I said, you learn a lot about a person.
"Solving the world's problems at 3 am on a hostel staircase" Photo of me taken by Sean.
The best part about conversation between traveling souls is that you skip the small talk, and dive into an ocean of vast unknowing. Suddenly, a stranger is your best friend. Sean was a gem—he had me in stitches laughing a few times. We spoke of our new beginnings, all the things we were leaving behind in the states, and the fearfulness of taking that first, big step into a journey. Our bond was quick but stable. He promised me that we would go to the Opera the next time he flies into New York, and I smiled at the thought. I tried not to acknowledge the fear of potential false hope that lurked in the back of my mind. Dear God, I gotta see at least one of these people in my life again. Sean looked over at me as the night came to a close: “Jeeze…I don’t want to leave Galway, let’s just stay here.” I nodded slowly in agreement, sealed with a yawn. I smiled at him, then looked over at Zach, hoping my smile was masking the sudden twinge of worry and doubt on my mind. “Do. Not. Get. Attached.” I scolded my heart, trying to repress the passion with logic.
Miranda and I returned from our second tour the following evening to find two hostel mates settling in the bunks above ours, two girls chatting away excitedly about their ideas for the evening. Their names were Jenny and Sam, two friends traveling together as Miranda and I were. Jen was a spunky, confident strawberry blonde from Dublin, and Sam was an elegant, reserved Brit with big blue eyes. Our conversations of travels meshed together nicely, as well as our personalities. We were also surprised to find a lonesome Michael, sitting on his bed with a friendly smile, but absent of Frenchie. “You girls goin’ out tonight?” He asked us. Our plans weren’t concrete in that moment, but we knew we wanted our last night in Galway to be one to remember. We invited Michael, as well as Jenny and Sam, to come out with us for one last hoorah in the City of The Tribes.
As we walked through the puddled streets of Galway, I walked alongside Michael and listened to his stories of his almost yearlong expedition. “Ya see, I get attached too easily” he explained to me. I shook my head with unfortunate understanding- “You don’t have to tell me twice, I know the feeling.” The evening escalated quickly. We found ourselves at The Front Door again, this time on the upper level. It didn’t take Miranda and I long for our feet to find their way to the dance floor, which was jam packed with well-dressed Irish boys and local girls whose wild dance moves almost showed me up a few times. I danced with a sweet lad from Tipperary who swore I was his soul mate because our moves were so in sync to Biggie. “Wait, you’re such a classy girl! Don’t go leavin’ on me, the states don’t deserve ya!” He kissed my outstretched hand as I followed the pull of Jenny through the crowd. I could get used to this.
I was up to my head in Heineken’s and Jager bombs before I realized we were in a large club that kind of reminded me of home, which I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing at first. My feet felt disconnected from my body as I danced around irrepressibly, I’m uncontrollable in any state of mind when DMX’s “Up In Here” plays in the club. Hair swinging around wildly, purple and pink lights flashing, Miranda, Jenny, Sam and I dance around Michael—I’d assume he was in heaven. Jen could bust a move like she was Beyoncé herself, and Sam allured the boys with effortless finesse in her movements. To put it simply, I was having the time of my life.
I finally found a table to sit down on and catch my breath, the beat outdid me. Before I know it, I have a friend. This guy who’s features I can’t quite make out in the darkness of the club swings his arm around me as if we’ve been friends for ages. I look up, trying to consider his eyes, but my gaze is interrupted when he plants a kiss on my lips. Even in my fairly drunken state, I remember the shock and bewilderment washing over me in that moment. “Who do you think you are?!” I snapped at him. He puts his hand out, waiting for a shake. “My name is Kevin, nice to meet ya” he smiles at me (and no, surprisingly he’s not Australian). “I’m a classy girl, you can’t just do that! That’s my personal bubble you just broke.” He chuckled at my response and then apologized. “Welcome to Galway love” he winked at me as a flash of purple moved across his face.
We sat there for a moment in silence, observing the crowd almost reflectively. We both look towards Michael, who’s standing alone in a sea of drunken dancers, a big goofy smile spread wide across his face, he looks like a happy palm tree waving in the breeze. “Your friend isn’t from around here is he” Kevin asked as he sipped his drink, observing Mikey. “Nope, he’s an Aussie.” I laughed at Michael’s drunken demeanor. “Coulda told ya that, the hat gives it away” Kevin smirked.
"Michael's big night out" (left to right: Sam, Jenny, Miranda, Michael, Me)