Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After This, I'll Shut Up About Ireland

Well, dear readers, I'm home. Given the speed with which I churned out my first two Ireland posts, some of you probably expected this one earlier than now. I, however, was awake for approximately 26 hours straight yesterday and still went to bed with half my homework unfinished (I did it in the morning, Mom), so I figured this could be the one time in my life where I put my priorities in a reasonable human order and put blogging off for a day.

After the Maynooth mass on Thursday and the pep rally on Friday came the Folk Choir's best two days in Ireland - game day and the-day-after-game-day. We started things off bright and early on Saturday morning with a mass at Dublin Castle. This mass was taped to be televised later as the main Sunday mass on a supposedly important Irish network, RTE, which is both really cool and super weird. When I say "weird," of course, I don't mean weird in an "Oh, it's so weird I'm on TV" sort of way. That is simply how the world should be working, anyway. I mean weird in a "there are three video cameras pointing at me while I bite my nails all through the first and second readings" sort of way. This mass also marked the beginning of my strange and super-heightened emotions regarding my imminent reunions with my friends studying in Dublin for the semester. Between the army of green-sweatshirt-clad Dublin kids serving as ushers for the mass and the Gospel reading which had served as the inspiration for one of this summer's Jesus camp musicals, I was, by the time the homily rolled around, crying. If the statistics we've been fed are to be believed, there are now about 4 million people in Ireland wondering why that weird American girl was so upset by the parable of the talents.

Then, as Saturdays for Notre Dame students always go, mass was over and it was time to tailgate. This tailgate, however, was unlike any I have ever or will ever see. The Emerald Isle Classic tailgate was no parking lot full of pickup trucks and Natty Lite. Nay, this tailgate consisted of Notre Dame taking over the entire Temple Bar district, complete with "Official ND Tailgate" signs at every corner, incredibly lenient (read: nonexistent) laws about carrying alcohol outside from pub to pub, and every classmate you have ever had, ever. While standing in the street outside The Auld Dubliner, I ran into: my best friend in the entire world, two members of Howard Hall's 2011-2012 Spiritual Life Council and at least one other member of the Howard class of 2014, a girl from my freshman Honors seminar, a girl from my sophomore Honors anthropology seminar, a girl with whom I took the intro classes for both of my majors, one of my fellow Jesus camp employees, the boyfriend of another of my fellow Jesus camp employees, and the girl who beat me out for first runner-up at the 2011 Miss ND pageant. And those are just the ones I had conversations with.

Following the world's greatest tailgate, we headed over to Aviva Stadium for the game itself. We trekked to our seats and found ourselves directly in front of the band, directly behind the 1964 winner of the Heisman Trophy, and approximately 10 rows from the field. The five Irish men sitting beside the drum major in the row behind me, I think, were - both physically and mentally - very, very lost. Because there was no other viable option, really, we declared ourselves the student section. We stood for the duration of the game, we did each and every football cheer, and, as we have now been told about 80 times each, we got a lot of TV time. We did push-ups for every touchdown with people as interesting as all of Heisman guy's grandkids, one of the Irish guys from the row behind us, and even the drum major. We also planted the seed with the drum major and band directors that the Band of the Fighting Irish simply must learn how to play "The Wobble," so, you know, listen up for that later in the season. And then the Notre Dame students actually on the field won by forty points. This was a good day.

Then came Sunday. We sang for mass at St. Mary's Church on Haddington Road (a meaningless address for pretty much anyone reading this, but given the 12 million St. Mary's Churches in the world, it seemed necessary), then had a free afternoon. I had a lovely day of shopping with a girl who I'm sure is about to brag to her boyfriend about being mentioned in two of my blog posts in a row (see, Olaf, I mentioned you too, obliquely) and bought lots of clothes I can't wait to brag about buying in Ireland, including my dress for the Howard dome dance.

Yes, boys, I am still looking for a date.

We rounded out the evening at Notre Dame's favorite Dublin pub, O'Neill's, and prepared to head home. At 6:00 Monday morning, we gathered in the lobby of the Avalon House hostel and said our goodbyes to the Folk Choir's favorite city and to the Folk Choir's favorite member currently living there. Given that this last one was, for me, a goodbye to my best friend for the next 11 months, this was one of those times that I'm glad there weren't three RTE cameras pointing at me. We headed back to our home under the Dome, sang the Alma Mater as we drove down ND Ave, and returned to our normal lives. The day that began with tears and hugs in Dublin ended with homework and laughter in the kitchen of Lewis Hall, and the weekend that started on a Wednesday ended on a Monday night with six days of memories I will never forget. Thanks for the adventure, Dublin - I'll see you soon.

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