Twenty years ago, I had a brief summer fling with a Galway Guy. We’ve kept in touch, loosely, through the years.
In a few short weeks, I’ll see him. For the first time in twenty years, we will meet.
We were halfway there when the rain came down
Of a day -I-ay-I-ay
And she asked me up to her flat downtown
Of a fine soft day -I-ay
And I ask you, friend, what’s a fella to do
‘Cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue
So I took her hand and I gave her a twirl
And I lost my heart to a Galway girl
Steve Earle, “Galway Girl” lyrics
It was the late 1990s. I was painting houses that summer and had hired a crew to help me. He and a friend of his were in the States for their summer holiday, to work and have some laughs. They were hard workers and fun to be with. I liked them both immediately.
We went out drinking one night. I brought my friends, they brought theirs. At some point, that first night out, a flirtation began.
My friends warned me away from him. “He works for you,” they said. “This won’t end well,” they said.
And I ask you, friends, what’s a gal to do
‘Cause his hair was black and his eyes so blue
So I took his hand and I gave him a sigh
Then I lost my heart to a Galway guy
That was twenty years ago. My friends were wrong and I am glad I did not listen to them. My fling with my Galway Guy did not end badly. Quite the opposite, in fact. We hugged and kissed goodbye at the end of the summer, at the airport, before he boarded his flight back to Ireland. We have kept in touch ever since.
One of my dearest friends from college also happens to be Irish and lives in London now. In a couple weeks, I will travel to London to visit him.
He asked what I wanted to do while in Europe. He suggested we spend a few days in London, and choose another destination and do a quick trip there as well. He tossed out a few options. Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam… all are within easy reach of Heathrow.
And then he said, “Or… you could finally see Ireland. You’ve been talking about wanting to see Ireland since we first met.”
No, I said. No. Not Ireland. Not because I didn’t want to see Ireland… but because I knew if I went to Ireland, I would see my Galway Guy.
This was months ago, while I was still in the depths of a deep depression. The idea of seeing my Galway Guy after so long apart was overwhelming.
Regardless, the idea of finally seeing Ireland wriggled into my brain and my soul. It’s true; I’ve wanted to go to Ireland since long before I met my friend or my Galway Guy. It’s a destination that’s been on my bucket list longer than any other.
I agreed to Ireland, telling myself my Galway Guy had nothing to do with the decision. “I might not even reach out to him,” I wrote in my journal. “Seeing Ireland is my priority. I won’t stress about the possibility of seeing him. I’ll go with the flow and see what happens.”
In a few short weeks, I will be in Ireland. I will go to Galway and enjoy one evening, a Saturday night, in that beautiful city.
My Galway Guy knows this. We have plans to see each other.
I imagined a group of us would head out to the pubs for laughs. It would be easy, and fun, like things used to be. If my Galway Guy and I still had chemistry, so be it. If not, so be it. It would be lovely going out and having laughs regardless.
I’ve been remarkably mellow about it, all things considered. I’m looking forward to a fun night out in a fabulous Irish city with old friends.
Except now, he’s indicated he wants more from me.
He wants more than fun and laughs with a group. He wants to see me, alone, before the drinking begins, for a few hours of one-on-one catch up time.
Whether it will happen or not I cannot say; my time in Ireland will be short and my schedule tight.
The fact of him wanting it, of him asking for it, of him wanting more from me than fun, has me reeling.
The boy I knew twenty years ago is a man now. Seeing him is not going to be a quick dip into the past, a regression into my early 20s before I run off to the next adventure.
My Galway Guy wants more than fun and laughs with me. My Galway Guy wants… intimacy.
And that, friends, is something I am wholly unprepared for.