So, I’m back on Irish soil for the foreseeable future. How exiting! The excitement has actually died down significantly since the surprise entrance – basically I’d been planning an early homecoming (only a few days early, but still) which everyone knew about except for Jack (and his sister, it turned out). I’d been in cahoots with his mum and boyfriends for weeks re. tracking his movements and plans coming up to the day, and even though there were a few fraught moments during exam time where I wanted to bellow down the phone ‘I’M COMING HOME EARLY, GLAD THAT’S OFF MY CHEST’, overall I’m very pleased that I managed to keep my composure and keep the secret, well, secret. Even when he casually mentioned that he’d been called into work that day, I hardly flinched.

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‘Oh good’ = ‘Oh bollocks’

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Subtly is key.   
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Such good friends, such good accomplices 

My final exam finished at 8pm on Thursday, and my flight was booked from Bratislava at 1.30 the following day. Not much time for a post-exam celebration, but enough wine was drunk once I’d landed on the other side that it didn’t matter hugely. I had told J that on that day, a few girls and I were going for a day trip to Graz, another Austrian city, to celebrate the end of exams (basically to cover the fact I’d have no wifi for most of the day and would be uncontactable). Then I downloaded some generic pictures of buildings one might find in Graz in order to send them inconspicuously to him throughout the day – ‘Wish you were here’ and all that malarkey. Just call me Sherlock. I even took a very unflattering selfie of myself with Irene, one of my travel buddies, standing in front of a nonspecific Austrian building – there was no way he might guess I was sitting in the shoe box that is Bratislava airport, three hours early for my flight (for a change).

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A flattering one of me, with a secret mountain of suitcases around my legs 
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‘Oh my God you’d love this palace if you were here!’
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‘Irene says hi!’

Here’s a picture of me outside the airport, taken by new-found friend, David – possibly the last time I’ll ever step foot on Bratislava soil – er, concrete.

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Spent a very jittery three hours on the flight, watching ‘How to Be Single’ and trying to ignore the fact that I needed the bathroom because I’d already made the two men sitting beside me get out of their seats and then back in twice at the beginning of the flight and didn’t want to disturb them from their slumber. Did my makeup, took it all back off, put it on again. It certainly passes the time, applying and reapplying liquid liner.

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Also listened to A LOT of ‘Going Home’ songs – for any of you wondering, the top picks of this playlist were ‘Radical Face – Welcome Home‘, ‘The National – Slow Show‘, ‘Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Home‘ and ‘Moby – Almost Home‘. I am a sad case.

When I finally arrived in blustery Dublin, J’s parents picked me up, having been stuck behind a crash on the M50 for who knows how long. We decided that instead of going with the original plan (wait for J at the house, I hide in bedroom, parents say “Package arrived for you today, didn’t know you were expecting a package?”, J bounds quizzically up to room to find me beaming next to my suitcases) that we would wait at the local wine bar, 64 Wine, and coerce J into popping in after the gym. First of all, his sister Gillie arrived, quite shocked that no one told her about this rigmarole. J’s dad paced about outside on the lookout for him so he could give us the signal to compose ourselves, since we were all hopping about on our stools in anticipation.

I might just take a minute here to say that no, it wasn’t the surprise of the century, and yes, he was expecting that I’d come home in the next few days. But sometimes the element of surprise is everything. I LOVE a surprise, whether it’s for me or for someone else, and it’s even better when a few people are in on it and you can all jitter with anticipation together – that’s why I was so excited.

Anyway, as we were all discussing the technicalities of the Viennese exam system (you might say ‘dysfunctions’, if you were that way inclined) Fíona said, ‘He’s outside’, and sure enough he wandered in with his dad to find me perched on a stool with a glass of wine in my hand as if I’d been there all my life and almost fell backwards. I will also mention that by chance he was wearing the exact outfit he wore for my going away drinks the night before I left. Funny, how things like that happen.

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Excuse the quality of the picture – we were in partial  darkness and using camera phones – but you get the gist, feel the love etc. 

Needless to say, he was shocked about all the random photographs and the carefully scheduled messages which would arrive to him as I was flying. It’s a wonder I got any exams done with the amount of thought I put into this very simple surprise homecoming.

Since I got home it’s been a non-stop unpacking/friend-seeing/shopping/eating/drinking marathon. I’ve moved into my new apartment on Royal Terrace – known as Castle Black, where I am ruling Lady Commander, thank you – so have been trying to rid the place of strange 1000-year-old wicker items and dried flower arrangements. I’ve also been setting up electricity and broadband packages, which is a scary and horrendous thing to be doing, but that’s adult life for you. On a more childish note I’m back in West Cork as we speak for some quality time with Papa Black (and to have my food cooked and clothes washed for me and face cleaned by Ollie the Bernese mountain dog).

 

So for now I bid you adieu. There are lots of lovely things coming this way soon, so keep an eye out. I do hope you enjoy my ramblings.

 

See you soon, amigos. Dubliny kisses all round,

K. x

 

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