The boy in the blue shirt

It was in 2011 that I first met Evan. I met him in the driveway of my childhood home. I remember it well, because while the four of us (my friend Julie and I, and Evan and his friend Steve) were going out for the night to meet up with other friends, I was supposed to like Steve. Imagine a world, where you’re supposed to like someone? I wish I could go back then and kick myself for allowing myself to feel like I had to do anything to please anyone else. Anyway…

I remember Evan because I thought he was cute right away. His shirt though, it was bright blue and two sizes too large. I knew he knew that too because the arms were rolled up and he kept tugging at it. He didn’t like it either, our first agreement was within seconds.

We went out that night and met a few other friends at Ladder 133 in Providence. I drove us all, in the cute little blue Audi I had, and it turned out to be a great night. We laughed all night. But the person I was focused on was Evan. He made me laugh the most. It would be the first, and last, night that I saw Evan for three years. I hung out with that same crowd of people we were mutual friends with, but we always missed each other. Whenever I was there, he wasn’t, whenever he was there, I wasn’t. Eventually, the boy in the blue shirt slipped out of my mind, after all … he was never supposed to be in my mind to begin with, or was he?

Three years later, I had recently moved to Boston. I was shopping after work one day, looking for the perfect throwback outfit to wear to a theme party I was going to that weekend. I had never been shopping where I was that day, and usually just went for a run or walked Cooper after work. But not that day, that day I went over to the BU area, and shopped around longer than I expected to. I was ready to head back home. I walked over to the MBTA train (the ‘T’), and waited for the next green line to take me back to my Cleveland Circle apartment. It came quickly, but was jam-packed with people heading home after work. I was deciding which car to get into, but they were both equally packed, I just picked one. I went up the stairs to the standing-room-only T, and found myself face-to-face with Evan Matzell.

He looked different but the same. He was wearing a light jacket this time. It fit. It looked great. He looked great. We talked the whole train ride. As people got off at each stop, seats opened up, but we just stayed there, face-to-face, talking. We talked all the way up until it was his stop. But it was also my stop. We learned that we lived within two blocks of each other. A week or two later, Evan and I went out on our first date. We quickly went on our second, then our third, then I met his mom, and then it was my birthday and he met my whole family. We quickly became a huge part of each others lives and neither of us wanted to slow down.

Over three years later, I still don’t want to slow down. I’ve never felt so right with someone, so at home. Who would’ve known, all these years later, that I’d be marrying that boy I met in my driveway. Life is funny that way. You never know when it’s going to zigzag and take you through a journey you wouldn’t have imagined. You have to trust your journey. I am so grateful that I’ll never go three years without seeing Evan Matzell again. My journey and his journey are now one, and I’m so excited for where it will take us.

Ireland

If you know me, you know I am very proud of my Irish heritage. I have been to Ireland a handful of times now, and each time I say “okay, this is the last time for awhile, I need to explore other places.” But, I keep going back. Maybe it’s the beautiful countryside, maybe it’s the friendly locals, it could definitely be the peat fires, or the cozy bars playing traditional Irish music, it could even be the brown bread (which I never liked until this most recent trip!). I think though, it’s how I feel when I’m there. I’m not sure if my body knows that it’s where my roots stemmed, but it certainly knows I’m home when I’m there.

Evan and I went back, for our second trip together this past June. I am ashamed that I am just getting to write about it now, but I have been so busy and honestly, overwhelmed, since we returned, which I’ll get to later.

We flew into Dublin, rented a car, and drove around the beautiful country for six days. Flying from Boston, you arrive at 8am their time, and I don’t sleep on planes. That first day is always difficult but you have to push on through or else you won’t get on their time.

DAY ONE

We arrived in Dublin, and went straight to brunch at The Bakehouse in Dublin, which was recommended to me by my best, Rachel. It was delicious. We had a longgg day ahead of us, so from there we got in our rental car (which Evan drove the whole week, God Bless him), and headed three hours across the country to Galway. Looking back, this was unsafe. It was literally difficult to keep my eyes open during this drive, I don’t know how Evan did it.

Once we arrived, we checked into our hotel, The House Hotel, which was lovely and extremely central. We went to dinner that night to arguably the best fish and chips restaurant in the country, McDonagh’s. We both got fish and chips, obviously, and Galway Hookers (it’s a beer, thank you very much). From there, we went to Tig Choili for a pint of Guinness and a traditional music session.

DAY TWO

The next morning, we woke up refreshed. It was a beautiful morning, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. Evan and I got up, and headed down the street to the cutest cafe, Coffeewerk+Press. I loved their “take-away” cups. (Side note: I always feel like we wake up too early in Europe. We’re always the first ones out on the street, at 9am! That’s not even early and makes me feel extremely American.)

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and go somewhere neither of us had been. We took a one-hour ferry over to Aran Island. It is a beautiful, small island right off of Galway. We rented bicycles to get around the island, and stopped at the beach and saw a dozen seals right on the beach! The bike ride was truly breathtaking.

We had heard that there were cliffs on the islands, similar to the Cliffs of Moher, but rockier. We headed toward the cliffs. It was quite a hike up the cliff, but when you got to the top, it was so worth it. Evan and I found a secluded area, and took a picture together with the ocean and the cliffs in the background. When I turned back around, Evan was down on one knee.

This was the moment. It was our moment. And I, of course, said yes. Forever yes.

I can hardly remember the rest of the day on Aran Island. We didn’t stay much longer, actually.

We took the ferry back to Galway in the afternoon, and made a few phones calls to loved ones. We went out for a celebratory dinner that night. Irish food wasn’t in my mind for celebrating our engagement. I needed champagne and I needed it fast. We walked down the streets of Galway, and stumbled across a French restaurant called Rouge, which looked promising. It was delicious, and perfect! Afterwards, we went to Taaffes for a pint, after all, we were still in Ireland.

DAY THREE

The next morning, we drove three hours down to Killarney, one of my favorite areas of Ireland.

We stayed at The International Hotel, which is the same place we had stayed before and I really like it there! It is also very centrally located. I had scheduled us a couples massage at Muckross Spa, and it was amazing. We got there early to use the vitality room, pool, and lounge area they have, then we got a couples massage and facials. We then got to relax with champagne and chocolates. It was lovely, and just what we needed after all of the traveling we had been doing. An afternoon of relaxation that I would absolutely recommend.

Afterwards, we freshened up and went out to dinner at Cronins. I was in my element at Cronins and had the most delicious brown bread, the best shepherd’s pie (ever), and a Bulmers Irish cider.

DAY FOUR 

Day four, we woke up and drove an hour to Dingle. Dingle is one of my favorite places in the world, it is just that beautiful. The drive to Dingle is amazing with the rolling green hills. In Dingle, we took a boat out and saw Fungi, the Dingle dolphin. It was my first time ever going out to see him, and we saw him a lot! He was everywhere! Afterwards, we went to lunch and walked around the town. We also got ice cream at Murphys Ice Cream, which is handmade in Dingle. I got Dingle sea salt. It started pouring out, so we headed back to Killarney for dinner.

DAY FIVE

This was our last day in Killarney, and we did the Killarney Falconry. It was SO cool. We got to walk around with a hunting falcon, and hang out with three of the coolest owls. I love owls and this was really just an amazing activity that I would do ten times over again.

Afterwards, we drove almost four hours back to our original, and final, destination: Dublin. We checked into our hotel, Clontarf Castle Hotel, which was incredible. It is just about 20 minutes outside of Dublin city centre, but so. worth. it. It’s an actual castle, and they treat you like royalty. Next time I am back in Dublin, I will be staying here again.

That night, we met my family at Arlington Hotel for dinner and a show of traditional Irish music and dance. It was so great to see them and have Evan meet some of my family who still lives over in Ireland.

DAY SIX

This was it, our last day. The next morning we would head to the airport and go back home to start our new lives together.

Our last day in Ireland, we spent exploring Dublin. We walked through Trinity College, Temple Bar, St. Stevens Green, and Grafton Street. We stopped to get cheeseburgers at Bunsen Burger, mmmm. Then, we walked over to the Guinness Factory, which neither of us had ever been to before. It was great, we went through the whole tour, and got to pour our own Guinness’s. It really is worth it.

This past trip to Ireland was a dream, and I brought home the best souvenir, a fiancé. I swear, this will be our last trip to Ireland for a while … maybe …