About 15 years ago, I got a little bit drunk and went into a graveyard after dark.
I wonder, sometimes, if I am still that brave.
Let me back up.
I spent one year in my hometown after graduating high school, and I immediately bailed for another small town in an effort to become anonymous. As far as I knew, one person that I went to high school with lived in this small town, and that was enough. I was chasing a history major, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was all grown up, and I honestly didn’t care where I ended up. So, I moved to a tiny prairie town about an hour away from anywhere, and met someone who would change my life forever. Someone who would not only invite me to Ireland, but who would also invite me to change my way of thinking forever.
About halfway through the year, I decided to transfer. Who knew that it was a Lutheran college (hint: I didn’t do a lot of research before I moved) and I was a godless, heartbroken human who decided to bail on history and go for an English degree instead.
And then, as the transfer was accepted, I ended up in R’s year 1 history course. R, who runs through his class yelling about Napoleon’s croissants and red wine, stomping through the aisles about treaties and wars. R, who (I’m going to be honest – I’m still not entirely sure *how* this happened, but I’m ever so grateful that it did) called me after midterms and asked me to join him in Ireland. And, like any slightly hungover and baffled student should, I said yes.
Which is pretty much my rule for life now. If someone asks you to do something you’ve never done before, you say yes. Unless it’s highly illegal or highly immoral.
So, Ireland with R. It was the two of us, another instructor from the college, her mother, and 5 other students. It was historical and amazing and engaging and GOD I WISH I HAD R MY FIRST SEMESTER. I would have DEFINITELY stayed at that school. I’m still really proud to be his friend – I attended his last lecture last year, and definitely don’t see him enough (hopefully soon, though!)
After the first couple of days in Dublin, we stayed in an amazing little hostel in a village called Glendalough. If you’ve watched Vikings, you’ve seen this place. However, all those years ago, it was sleepy and lovely and home to a really old graveyard that we visited during the day. Like, old enough that the earth had sunk around the graves, and outlines of coffins were visible. That the Irish round tower was ancient and hostel full of feather beds. And, like, every where in Ireland, there was a dark, happy, local filled pub.
Also, Ireland has amazing beer.
So. We spent a day in a graveyard and hiking up to a lower lake, and then we had dinner and walked to the pub from our hostel, as you do. We missed the sunset that night, but the beer and music was terrific as the night fell. Nights in Ireland are inky, velvety black – I remember thinking that it must be as magical as all the reading I’d done, because nights weren’t possible that black without magic. After a few pints, R suggested that we sneak back into the graveyard and walk around the round tower.
Every single one of us was in. I have the photo evidence. The headstones in the graveyard, with the names long weathered off, seemed to glow in the dark. We has been whispering about ghosts to one another, and each of us clutched the other, watching for a ghost or banshee to rise over the sunken graves. None of us had a flashlight – just a camera or two.
R suddenly pointed out to the darkness.
“WHAT IS THAT?” He exclaimed. And then, he ran away, down the path, into the darkness.
The girls shrieked a little, and then laughed nervously. We inched forward in the darkness together, waiting for R to reappear, and then, when he didn’t, we started whispering about if the ghosts got him. The round tower appear out of the darkness, and then…
R ran back at us, jacket covering his head, screaming past us. We screamed, we laughed, and then we went home.
I’m older now – 16 years older, to be precise (side note: how the actual fuck am I that old? Am I old? I don’t feel old), and today I don’t know if I’d go into the graveyard. I think I’d be too afraid – afraid of the dark, afraid of lawbreaking, afraid of hurting my knee- and that makes me feel… sad.
I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life. I’ve snuck into graveyards, I’ve jumped off of bridges, I’ve learned to scuba dive, I’ve received two black belts, I’ve moved to Australia, I’ve traveled alone, I’ve gone on ghost walks in one of the most haunted places on earth, I’ve gone back to school and chased my dreams to be a writer, I’ve bought an apartment and adopted a homicidal love muffin to match, I’ve volunteered in Africa, I’ve broken my heart.
I don’t quite know why I’m afraid now. Maybe because I am older, because I’ve broken so many things (my knee, my heart, my arm), maybe because it’s been so damn long since I’ve done something that scared me. I mean, yeh. I’ve lost a couple of jobs, but that wasn’t doing something to myself. That was always straight instinct, to stand up when I kicked to my knees. But doing something to purposely to push myself out of my comfort zone?
Now, though. Now I’m in my mid-thirties (WHAT THE HELL) and I’m so happy. I have a partner I adore, a cat that I absolutely love, a house I dig, my family and friends are absolutely amazing… and I’ve had a bit of a shit year. I’m in serious need of a change, of SOMETHING changing because I’m about to go crazy and shave my hair or pierce something or get a tattoo. I keep dreaming of that graveyard in Ireland, of walking past the entry arch feeling the warmth of Irish beer in my veins, the excitement and fear of the dark and the graves and the history urging me forward.
I’m about to do something with my life that scares the everloving crap out of me. I’m about to light my life UP, to make a change that is going to (hopefully) send me down a new path. And, for some reason, I’m stalling. I’m waiting, I think, in hope that I talk myself out of it. Which I know I can’t do. I know I need to be brave, I know I need to make this change, because I literally don’t think I can be in communications anymore. As Elphaba says, I need to trust my instinct, close my eyes, and leap.
So, I’m sending this link to R. (Hi R! Surprise! I write a blog!). Who better to tell that I’m making a big change than one of the people who will be the least surprised? I’ll buy you a glass of wine and fill you in soon, I promise.