The Quiet Adventures

As I sit at my desk, in the midst of my midterm exams, I find myself procrastinating. (Maybe a little too much.) Earlier today, I caught myself scrolling through my camera role—anything to keep myself from working.

My first exam is on the Mabinogi, a collection of four fascinating stories written in Medieval Wales. These stories follow the adventures of shapeshifting characters, wizards who can conjure up naval fleets out of seaweed, and people transformed from flowers. One wonders how these strange and complex narratives developed. Perhaps they derive from oral tradition—perhaps they were once bedtime stories for medieval Welsh children. Poring over these tales the past few days has made me wonder what stories I might seek to tell.

And so, while flipping through photos in my phone trying desperately to distract from the imminent exam, I found the photos I took from Cobh a couple months ago. This small town in the south of County Cork is known for its picturesque seaside character. A few weeks ago, Vivek came to visit me and Neel in Cork and we travelled to Cobh together.

For how different this town felt compared to Cork City, the bus was surprisingly short. Tall hills, quaint houses, and seaside cafes defined this townscape. And it was a beautiful, sunny day—rare for Ireland in February. We spent the day there, walking along the narrow streets, up and down hills lined by colorful houses, until it was time to head back to Cork.

Neel, Vivek, and I in front of the famous “Deck of Cards” houses in Cobh

It was a quiet adventure. There was no Mabinogi-esque shapeshifting or magical transformation; we didn’t even need hiking boots. And yet, as quiet as that day was, it is that story—one of a journey to this quaint town with Neel and Vivek—that I’m telling you now.

I came across another set of photos while scrolling through my camera roll. These were from a more recent trip with all of the Mitchells to the Giant’s Causeway, a geological formation in Northern Ireland. Even the ancient Irish found this place significant: they told stories of how Finn mac Cumhaill built it to fight a Scottish giant. My tale of a few friends travelling there and walking around is a little less exciting (and far less violent) compared to that of Finn mac Cumhaill. And yet, it’s that hike and the photos we took together that I’ll remember going forward.

Some of the Mitchells at the top of Giant’s Causeway

Our experiences, memorialized through the photos we take and memories we preserve, will always pale in comparison to the wild narratives of folklore; I have never encountered wizards or been transformed. I’ve walked around the lovely streets of Cobh with Vivek and Neel, though; and I got to hike over the strangely formed rocks of Giant’s Causeway with the other Mitchells. As mundane as these things are compared to the strangeness of medieval narratives, these are the tales that I’m excited to tell, because retelling these stories reminds me of the wonderful experiences I got to have here.

I’ll just have to keep going to cool places and taking photos with friends (it’ll help with future procrastination).

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