When I was in college, I traveled to Ireland with my Scottish friend, Arlene. We began our trip in Dublin, where we drank boatloads of Guinness, while sitting by fireplaces in cozy pubs, enjoying poignant Irish ballads and laments. I obtained a new passport, since my original passport got stolen while I was in Scotland, the week before. (Sidebar: Always listen to your dad, when he tells you to photocopy your drivers license and passport when you travel. Even if you roll your eyes and pretend it is a stupid idea. DO IT.) We signed up for a week-long tour of the island, and hopped on the Shamrockers bus, along with about 35 other college age adults. After the organized tour, we took a side trip to Northern Ireland, and visited a friend of ours who lived in Belfast.
Highlights of our Irish adventure included visiting County Cork, where my Grandpa Riney’s family was from, kissing the Blarney Stone in Galway (but I didn’t have the five dollars to buy a souvenir t-shirt, as my credit card was stolen along with my passport), and partying hard while in Killarny, where our bus tour bonded as a group and drunkenly sang, in unison, the lyrics to “If You’ll Be My Girl” for hours straight as we stumbled from pub to pub. Heeeeeey! Hey baby! I wanna know-ow-ow if you’ll be my girl! Uh! Ah! Yes, we were those Americans. Northern highlights included viewing the Protestant parades and almost getting hit by a rock thrown by protestors. My friends insisted we pose for a photo with the hulking men in army fatigues, holding semi-automatic weapons. To this day, I have no clue who these armed men were protecting, or intimidating, but as good friends do, they blamed me, the American, for wanting the photo. I humored them.
One of my favorite memories was visiting the amazingly lovely geometric fractures at Giant’s Causeway. Eyeball the natural beauty:
Unfortunately, this was pre writing-travel-blogs, so there is a lot about this trip that I have forgotten.
The trip was amazing, and exhausting. We traveled around the entire perimeter of the island, so we were on the bus a LOT. After late nights at the pub, this meant a lot of napping on the bus. I vividly recall waking up from one particular mid-morning nap. I thought I heard someone say, “She’s sleeping!” as I began to come to. I looked around and 6 pairs of eyes were studying me. I shifted in my seat as I glanced around at the circle of faces surrounding me. Had I been drooling? Snoring? Talking in my sleep? Did I sleep with my mouth gaping open, like my great-grandfather used to? Something was causing these quizzical expressions…but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Sara, a fellow Shamrocker, finally asked me, “Did you hear me? I was asking you a question.” I heard a collective groan. EW! AH! (not to be confused with the more lighthearted “Uh! Ah!” mentioned earlier) when I told her that I had been sleeping, so no, I didn’t hear her. One of the pairs of eyes chimed in, “You looked wide awake; your eyes were open, so she was talking to you!” Apparently, when I didn’t respond, Sara was so grossed out that her exclamations of disgust attracted the others, who were now surrounding me.
This is how I learned that I sleep with my eyes open.
A few months later, I had an eye doctor appointment. I set my alarm and got up at the last possible second, arriving mere minutes after dragging my ass out of bed. While she was looking at my eyes, she noted that the bottoms of my eyes were dry. She asked if I slept with my eyes open. Thanks to my Irish adventures, I was able to confirm, that yes, in fact, I did. In Ireland, my open lids were accentuated due to the particular angle of my head against the bus seat; typically my peepers are only slightly ajar.