I have had a summer.
Between the serious illness of a close family member, and a mad-dash scramble to prepare applications for law school, I have had extremely few days to simply breathe. I chose the above picture for this blog post because it was taken during one of those moments. This image was taken sometime around mid-June; it captures the moment that dusk falls on Perdido Bay in Elberta, Alabama. My partner and I sit on a dock behind the camera, feet dangling above the water, stealing what little peace we can before responsibility returns. I like to think that moments like these are the stuff of life.
But they go quick. Before long, my partner and I were back into the full swing of things. I took breaks from studying the LSAT to juggle medical outlooks for my family member. My partner popped in for a 'hello!', followed by a 'goodnight!' before they had to get up to work a morning shift. The National Passport Center kindly asked me to hold for just four more hours while I kindly asked student loan services to wait just four more lifetimes. The torrential rains of adulting never ceased, and in the middle of it all, I forgot that I would be studying abroad.
Now, you might ask yourself, "Hey, Wade-O? Buddy? You literally just mentioned trying to get your passport this summer. How could you forget th-" Hush, I know. Of course I didn't literally forget that I am flying to Dublin soon, but I am not talking about the kind of memory that sits only between your ears; that kind which sees you nod along sagely when asked if the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Yeah, I mean, if you took a grade school science class in the 2000s-2010's, you probably remember that fact, just as I remembered that I was responsible for getting on a plane on August 30th. But does one feel that kind of fact in their bones, or is it just another piece of information, filed away between the ears?
When I say that I forgot that I was studying abroad, what I mean is that I hadn't really breathed it in. The whole process has been too simple for that. I sent out a feeler email to my school last year, occasionally filled out one form or the other, and suddenly American Airlines is notifying me that it's time to check-in for my flight to Dublin. When I received that push notification this morning, I looked around my room and realized that this flight is all that's left to be done. I've taken the LSAT. I've prepared most of my application materials. I have planned with my family for our sick loved one. I've even managed to pack, just as I ever managed to do the dishes or cook a meal. I'm leaving the country for the first time in my life.
Those words slipped from my lips in front of the bathroom mirror, and I laughed them into my cup of coffee. Travel abroad has been my dream since I was a child. I imagine most people have it on their bucket list, but I have desired it so much that I have spent most of the past year in disbelief that it could truly happen. Disbelief was easy; every next step in the IES Abroad process was perfectly manageable, so making this happen was no more than adding a drop of water to an ocean of responsibility.
The oceanic quality of this opportunity, which has only required action piece by piece, had kind of escaped me until now. Yes, let's set a reminder to fulfill this requirement, let's send that email, and then let's return to everything else. Let's chase down this passport, certainly, but let's do so just as we take out the trash and study for a test. Life's responsibilities will churn on, and mitochondria will continue to power cell houses (is that how it works? I'm not a STEM major), and maybe I'll actually get to step on a flight to Dublin. That is the mode of planning that I have been in for a full summer.
So when American Airlines reminded me to check-in this morning, it's no wonder that I thought of that eventide bay where I last took such a grateful breath. A mixture of calm, gratitude, and positive anticipation has settled into my bones. My passport is in hand, my bags are packed, I have proof of vaccination, and now? Well, now I get to dangle my feet above an ocean of opportunity, and bathe in that dusk which has come before a very new dawn. I should be good as long as I remember to breathe.
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<p>Yo! My name is Wade Suarez. I'm an English Creative Writing major attending Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am attending the Dublin Writer's Program in Fall of 2021, and my current plan is to not shut up about it the entire time I'm there. My favorite thing to do is to write (shocking, I know), but my next favorite hobbies are exploring, reading, and hunting down the best nooks and crannies I can find, wherever I am. My ultimate goal while I am in Ireland is to connect with a place and people that I've never known, so check it out if you want to see how that's going. I'm pretty pumped to share with you the things I learn and the connections I make while I am adventuring abroad this Fall.</p>