Fortunately, I did not have too much time to sit around and feel bad after my family abandoned me, because, well, Mary had a trip planned. She let us know a few days ahead of time that she would not be able to accompany us on this trip, but that we would be in the care of one of her very dear friends, and she would be there to see us all off. Sam would be going, too, as would Newbie and her Boy Toy (she won’t let us call him her boyfriend. This is Bob or Rob or Tim or Jim or Bim or Tob or whatever his name is–you know, the dude that randomly showed up in my kitchen and couldn’t tell me why he was there). Other than that, I knew no one. Ellen wasn’t going.
The first bit of the trip, the one that got us to the hotel we would be staying in for the duration of our travels, was quiet. Somehow I managed to score an entire row to myself, which insured I could sleep if I got tired (it was early in the morning. I was tired. Sleep was necessary). As is usual with Ireland, the countryside was beautiful to drive through. We were, of course, going to one of the most popular places for visitors to the southwest corner of the country to go, a place where I had recently dragged my family: the Ring of Kerry. Mary had assured me that this particular trip would introduce me to some new places that were somewhat off the beaten path. I hoped she was right.
We stopped at several quick destinations on our way to the hotel, including the Valentia State Quarry, which has turned into a bit of a shrine to Mary. Interesting, but not more than a fifteen minute stop to stretch our legs and take a few pictures. Other than that, we popped along quite nicely, eventually arriving at our hotel.
The hotel was not quite like an ordinary hotel. It was really more like a hotel in the Old West, where there was a ballroom and a dining room and a pub downstairs, a ridiculously narrow set of stairs to the second floor, and rooms all up in the second floor–checked in, and settled in. Sam had offered to let me join her in her room, but I had declined. I had just gotten into my room when I heard a key click in the door, and another girl stepped in. She was a bit shorter than I was, with short honey brown hair. We studied each other for a minute, then, like two characteristically quiet on the outside, panicking on the inside girls, confirmed that the hotel had checked us both in to the same room. After assessing that there were, in fact, two beds, we decided splitting a room with each other would be perfectly fine.
And that was how I met MK. After sitting and awkwardly talking about where we were from (and confirming that we both were on the same trip), we decided to go downstairs and wait for dinner, because that would be easier to do than to sit in our hotel room upstairs.
Somehow, someway, we began talking downstairs and began to realize exactly how much we had in common. Some Irish dude pulled out a guitar later that evening, and played music and we all sang along. After a few faltering attempts at classic Irish songs (where only a few of us knew the words, and most of the time we knew different versions of the same tunes), someone ran down to the hotel office and ran off copies of lyrics. Back upstairs, MK and I discovered we had the same tastes in music and were taking several of the same courses–we just never had connected.
And suddenly, we were friends.