by Niall Doherty


Twas a rough night sleeping across two seats on the ferry, but I’m awake at the crack and giddy like a kid at Christmas. Today is the day, three and a half years in the making. I go up on the top deck and find it empty. The helicopter pad becomes my dance floor, the wind my music, the rising sun my spotlight, and I dance the dance of a very happy man.


Ran into an old school friend in the supermarket. He married a nice hometown girl, works a steady job, raising a kid or two. And I see on Facebook that the girl I dated here several years ago is getting hitched soon. An alternative life flashing before my eyes, the path I chose not to choose. But I think I could have found peace on that path, too.


I’m exhausted, took a ninety minute nap today despite solid sleep the past few nights. I think I need the down time, though it’s always a challenge for me to unplug completely. It’s not in my genes to sit around and do nothing. But I’m trying to keep the work stuff at bay and be okay with wiling away a few unproductive hours at home.


Still lonely, longing for deeper chats and intimacy, but it’s easier knowing that I’ll be starting a new life soon, one which won’t involve faces and places changing quite so rapidly. Instead I’ll be building foundations, investing in friendships, relationships, community. It won’t happen overnight, I know, but it will happen. I’ll put in the time.


It’s interesting that people keep asking what’s next, what’s next, what’s next. I just got done traveling around the world for 44 months, give me a chance to catch my breath! At the same time though, I know they’re just echoing the thoughts in my head. And many of those thoughts are about Amsterdam. My new life starts there in eleven days.

The green green grass of home: arriving in Rosslare on May 16th.

The green green grass of home: arriving in Rosslare on May 16th.


It’s easy get excited by business ideas. I’ve been obsessing on one this week, thinking it’s a no-brainer, that people would be mad not to buy in. But it’s all in my head so far. I haven’t talked to any potential customers. I’m actually stalling on doing just that, because I like this excited feeling, and real-world feedback might extinguish it all too soon.


We just left a one-man show about an Irishman who explored the Antarctic a century ago. The light is fading on a Friday evening in Cork, and the city’s vibrant as ever. We bump into a friend of my cousin and stop to chat about strong dogs and improv comedy and lying down in department stores. There’s a homely feel about all this, something I’ve been missing.


Our conversations are long and rambling and range from the deep and philosophical to the silly and immature. I’ll share one topic we dove into today, that being a question on evil: Does it exist beyond humans, or is it purely a human concept, a label we apply to things we don’t like or understand? Can a wolf be evil, for example? Or a hurricane? Or a mountain?


There was something that man said today that struck me as profound, and I remember thinking as he said it that I should try to remember what he said so I could write about it later, but then he kept talking and I kept thinking and between the trying to listen to the new thing and trying not to forget the old thing, it wasn’t long before I’d lost it all.


I walked into seven businesses today, off the street, out of the blue, and tried to learn what I could about their online marketing. It was a lot like approaching and hitting on women. Some interactions went well, some went poorly. The trick, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, is to go from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

The view from my grandmother's house in Ireland.

The view from my grandmother’s house in Ireland.


Today was lots of face time with cool people, just sitting and chatting. I bought a friend lunch, another friend bought me dinner. I took some scary business action, made some money and learned a few things. I sat in the sun and drank coffee and read a book. It was one of those perfect days, the kind we dream of having but too often fail to appreciate when they come along.


Another alternative life flashed before my eyes today, as I was down on my aunt’s farm, nine acres of beautiful countryside with an old mill and a shy stream and all kinds of birdsong. Part of me longs to work the land, to plant and grow and shape a landscape. Maybe build a big outdoor gym, a spartan-style obstacle course, cabins and camping grounds, too.


I walk out of there thinking the meeting could not have gone better. Exactly the kind of business — and the kind of people — I’d like to help. Now that we’ve shaken hands and I’ve a foot in the door, all I have to do is boost their sales, leverage that success to sell others on the same service, scale the bejesus out of it, and reap the rewards. Simple, right?


My grandmother was born in the house she still lives in. She grew up riding horses and fetching water and leaving bicycles unlocked in public places. All her schooling was in Irish and she remembers the priest calling to the house to give you a scolding if you skipped mass of a Sunday. In her cupboard there’s an envelope full of postcards a grandson sent her.


Having spent the past two weeks living back home and visiting family, you might have expected me to write more on that topic, but my family is quite private you see. While I’m happy to be very transparent about my own life online, I try to respect the fact that not everyone likes having their words and deeds written about on the Internet. (Pretty sure my gran won’t mind though.)


It’s 3:08 am and there’s the sound of a clock ticking and keys tapping but nothing else. The countryside is dark and quiet. I doubt there’s another person awake for miles. The past two weeks have been like the slow turn of a page, and now comes a new chapter. It begins with a giant flying machine rocketing me towards the land of tulips and windmills.

Packing for Amsterdam.

Packing for Amsterdam.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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