Legend has it that when you kiss the Blarney Stone in the south of Ireland, you’re granted the gift of gab for seven years. You hang yourself over a ledge in a crumbling castle, kiss a stone that looks pretty similar to all the others, and suddenly you’re the picture of eloquence.
Seven years ago this month, I arrived in Dungarvan, Ireland, for my first ever intercontinental trip. The furthest I had ever been out of the country was Niagra Falls, and I was absolutely terrified. I almost didn’t go.
And then, magic happened. I met beautiful people. I became a better person.
I’ve been struggling to write about my experience in Ireland since I arrived back in the US in May 2011. I’ve written the same thing over and over again and never quite found the right form. I have fictionalized it, wrote it as a nonfiction essay, and journaled about it. Every March, the anniversary of when I left, I revisit the idea of this project, and every year I don’t know what to do.
But this March, I’ve come up with something. A few years back I wrote this “photo essay” for a class about my experience in Ireland. In case you were wondering if a “photo essay” is a thing, I’m fairly certain I made it up. Basically, it was photos with dates and annotations underneath them. To be honest, my professor didn’t really like it. But I haven’t stopped thinking about it, because that form always felt like the best way to tell this story.
So now, years later, I finally came up with a way to share. And here I am, telling it, with pictures after all, through Instagram captions. I want to use up all the eloquence that I gained from the Blarney stone seven years ago before I lose it, so I’m finally going to tell my story.
You can follow along on Instagram @ihavewandered. I’m using journal entries that I wrote all the way back in 2011 to caption the photos, and I’m going to follow along pretty closely with the dates in that journal. I’m endlessly excited about this idea — when I thought of it, it was one of those goosebumps kind of moments. I can’t wait to see where it ends up.