Spontaneous is not a word I would use to describe myself, necessarily. Nor would I use it to describe my fellow Mitchells: we are planners, and often obsessively so. It is a quality that we share because it has helped us accomplish goals and “do” a lot at a young age. My time here has taught me not to be such a rational organizer all the time. To put it more positively, it’s taught me the utter joy of spontaneity.
The beginning of this story takes place where many Friday nights end. I was sitting around a table in a pub with some couples-friends. (You know, those friends you have that are a couple). We were with a couple friendly to my friends who I didn’t know too well (“couples-friends-of-friends?”). The night ended up being a late one as we waited for the time in the evening when the band started covering Oasis songs. If you stay long enough at any pub here, you will get to hear some Oasis. As it turns out, the two couples were going to drive to Wexford, about an hour and a half away from Dublin in the “sunny southeast” of Ireland, the next morning. I was offered a spot on the trip, but turned it down, assuming it was simply a polite gesture. They insisted and insisted, and I told them I was flattered, but they should go on without me. I had articles to read, papers to write. The band finally played Oasis (“Roll With It” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” I think), we lost our minds banging our hands on the table and singing along, said our goodbyes and headed home for the evening.
The next morning, I woke up to a phone call from one of my couples-friends, protesting my decline of the invitation the previous night. At last, I relented. With a toothbrush and a pair of sunglasses, I squeezed into the middle seat and we headed to Wexford. The friends-of-friends (now, simply “friends”) demanded we stop in New Ross, the ancestral home of President Kennedy, so I could take photos with his statue. In Wexford, we took long walks on the beach and up to Hook Lighthouse, with me as the fifth wheel to this absolutely gorgeous couples retreat. I happily report that I did my duty of taking some flattering photography of them for their generosity of hosting me.
That night, we headed to a pub in the town of Fethard for a fundraiser. The local community was raising money to build a replica of the rescue boat Helen Blake, which had sunk in 1914 on a mission to rescue stranded sailors. Everyone, from the local councilor to descendants of those who died in the episode, was on hand to eat and talk about the project. I was moved by how much the past lives on in this tight-knit community, and it was one of the most memorable privileges of my time here to share in that evening. To think now that I nearly missed it seems criminal. The only thing that didn’t quite fit? At Neville’s Pub in Fethard, the night ends with a raffle, not Oasis.