My other reflections centered on my life in Galway, the structure of my days, all those funny little things you learn about a country by living there, and not just visiting. (Isn’t it amazing that you can get a decent breakfast sandwich at an Irish gas station, for example? Or that candidates up for a national office will come and knock and your door for a nice chat?) But for my last Mitchell reflection I thought I’d write about, well, the other Mitchells.
I’m the oldest of the Mitchells by a nearly embarrassing amount. (I got stunned silence when it came up that I was a senior in college on September 11, 2001; the rest of the Mitchells were probably finding their first pimples in a middle school bathroom.) But the age gap meant nothing; the Mitchell boys really made my year in Ireland. I haven’t been around people so young, talented and un-jaded in a long time. They made me think how we lose that eager perspective, that shiny view of life, as we grow older, when thoughts of real estate prices, aging parents, and whether we really should start taking fish oil supplements begin to chip away at our imaginations. I knew that leaving behind a nicely paid job and cute apartment in New York for Galway would shake me out of old ruts; I didn’t realize how much younger it would make me feel.
Before this year, I’d thought my college days of long, earnest conversations with friends about the world, about life, about love were behind me. But luckily they were not – in a chip shop in Belfast, the hotel in Cork, the bus in Dublin, at my kitchen table in Galway, the other Mitchells inspired me to think more, to try harder, to experiment more freely. I’d been so far removed from the college world, and the big ideas of this crop of most recent graduates, that I’d nearly forgotten what it feels like to have your whole life in front of you. Thank goodness for the Mitchell Scholars, who helped me to remember.