Austin, Texas.

Hear ye, hear ye! Throwback Thursday is upon us, and another tale of debaucherous depravity and wholesome bonding needs to be shared! Read this account of four glorious days in the sweltering Texas heat and laugh at stories of falling asleep where I shouldn’t have and Tom pantsing himself in a busy bar on sixth street.

At the beginning of the year, the lads and I would often find ourselves discussing where we would like to spend a vacation over the summer. We decided to go on a group holiday at some stage during the year, eventually settling for our friend John’s thirtieth birthday. With Brian also moving to San Fran just before the summer months, we thought somewhere hot, close to us both and most importantly, fun, would suffice.
Austin, Texas, would be our destination. I had a friend who lived in Austin for a year or two and everyone else had also heard good things. We got a group of ten of us to sign a blood pact that we would all definitely go. Two dropped out and mysteriously disappeared. Strange how things happen like that.
No, in all seriousness, a group of eight was perfect. We booked our flights, Tom booked the Air BnB and we spent the next few months talking about the craic that we were going to have in Texas.

As all good Irish citizens do, we went out the night before our early morning flight and got absolutely hammered. I stumbled back to the apartment at 4:30 AM Friday morning to find all the lads in either a state of unconsciousness or zombie-like packing. It wasn’t a pretty sight but we ordered an Uber and made the flight.
My hangover kicked in just as we entered Austin, so the first thing on the metaphorical menu and the only thing on the restaurant menu, was sandwiches and beers. After wolfing these down we made our way to our apartments that Tom had booked. A tip of the cap to Tom because the two rooms were unreal. All we were going to use the rooms for was for small reprieves from drinking. There was a pool in the complex right outside our doors. Our neighbors who sat outside their door observing the action were smoking weed so we knew they probably wouldn’t mind our excessive drinking and partying.
After a bite to eat at the Haymaker pub across the road and a dip in the pool along with multiple bottles and cans, we Uber’d our way to 6th street. The only way I can describe 6th street for any people from Cork who haven’t been to Austin is that it resembles Grand Parade and Washington St. on a weekend night. Except it is like this all the time. Madness. Carnage. Beautiful.
Despite our tired limbs and minds after over twenty four hours on the sesh, we soldiered on. I fell asleep outside some apartment block and awoke to a very angry man shouting down at me from his window to, “Move! We don’t like people sleeping on our sidewalk!” I never thought you did sir. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate. Please excuse me and have a wonderful night.
I somehow got back to the complex to find the door wouldn’t open, and I may have had some choice words for my dear friend James when he tried to tell me what the problem was. I apologise James. You see, I am what some people might call a degenerate, and am a grumpy bastard when I am rudely awoken from my sidewalk slumber.

Saturday was a brilliant day. We all had a bit of sleep and crossed over to the Haymaker again for a bit of grub. From there we made our way to a gun range just outside the city. I had never been to one before and I don’t mind saying that even with all of the safety talks and assurances that once we respected the gun and the rules that everything would be O.K., as soon as I held one in my hand I was absolutely shitting myself. Not literally. There’s a code to uphold in these places and of course, the man code*, but I was apprehensive. We all took turns on the different firearms. For the life of me I can’t recall any of their names bar the Uzi. What I do remember is I didn’t have a bad shot. None of us did. We all came away with a bit more confidence in our shooting. All except for John. He knew what he was doing. I’m not being sound because it was his birthday trip, it’s just the truth. John turned the gun sideways, held it in one hand and put out a gangland hit on the head of the target. The next sheet came out and John shot him six times in the throat. That target had a fucking family John, and you couldn’t even give him an open casket.
6th street was the port of call again that night and it was epic. We were familiar with a few of the bars from the previous night and familiarised ourselves with a few more. In one such bar we were dancing with a group of girls. There was eight of us and five of them. Not to be crass, but the odds were looking good for us boys, even just to have a group of girls for drinking buddies for a portion of the night. Enter Tom. I have a few memories etched into my brain from the weekend but the one that sticks out the most is this. Our two groups had widened into a circle, letting one of us after the other enter the center and display our moves. Tom leaned into my ear and said “Will I take off my pants?”. I immediately responded no, and laughed it off, looking back at the group. Seconds later, almost as if in slow motion, Tom had strutted by me, taking his place in the centre and proceeded to drop his trousers. Never in my life had I been so surprised and it seems so too were the girls as they screamed and ran to the other end of the bar. No exaggeration. They literally screamed and ran away. Anyways, Tom is a legend.
Nobody fell asleep on any sidewalks. A stripclub was visited but nobody fell aleep there, thank God.

We booked a boat party for the Sunday afternoon. None of us packed enough sunscreen and we each came away with savage burns but it was worth it. Out in the depths of lake Austin we drank copious amounts of beer and flirted with the girls on the next boat over. We had our own boat for the eight of us driven by a lovely man whose name I can’t recall, but as we glided over the water and passed by extravagant houses, I knew we had made the right choice in coming to Austin.
We saw other boats in the distance and we blasted ‘Westmeath Bachelor’ by the late, great Joe Dolan as we neared them. I’m sure they thought a tribe of gypsies had commandeered a boat and were taking over.
‘2002’ by Anne-Marie and ‘Shotgun’ by George Ezra played on repeat the whole day. I often wake up in a cold sweat with the chorus of Shotgun reverberating around my skull. I haven’t slept properly in months.

Taking a break from 6th street, we chose Rainy street for our last night. I arrived late because the tiredness, a.k.a, booze, caught up with me and I took an impromptu nap. We had a great last night, made better by the fact that myself and John got the Uber driver to drive to a diner. We got some feed and he charged us a bomb!

As with any trip, it was a sombre last day. Brian went back to Cali, the rest of us went back to New York and I went straight to work. My prayers had evidently not been answered as the building was still standing and I had to work the night shift. That was a tough shift to work as I just wished that I was back soaking up the sun, smoking too many cigarettes and getting as drunk as could be with the lads. All the spectacular descriptive words couldn’t do that weekend justice. I’ll go for something simple, succint and true.

It was class.

*The man code is one article and it states that a man should never shit himself in public under any circumstances, unless he is a mouldy feen on the sauce hahaha, chalk it down keeeed.**

**Disclaimer: I have never shit myself on a night out. Rag week in 2013 came close, but that was due to undercooked chicken and four nights on the sesh.***

Boston

A little bit of a throwback for this post. I’ve done a small bit of travelling in my time here and had plans to do some more. Pennsylvania and Nashville were also on my list, as was Washington D.C. to a lesser extent. But I’m happy with the places I did see and the people I got to visit. Travel broadens the mind. To be fair, I did a hell of a lot of drinking on these trips so my mind was probably numbed to all of the life changing experiences but I’ve had my fun, and that’s all that matters.

Back in April I went to visit my friend Katie in Boston. She lives in Cape Cod, in Hyannis. I left the night shift ten minutes early so I could catch a Greyhound Bus from Penn State. Thank God I took those extra minutes because the bus was delayed…for two hours. Greyhound, more like a slow coach….Am I right guys? Guys?
I rolled into South Boston Station after four hours, bleary eyed and crooked-knecked. The views of the city on the highway leading to the station were beautiful. I could see why many J1s and ex-pats choose to spend summers and lifetimes in this city. I was happy to get some fresh hair and after two long years, see my friend again. Katie is hilarious, kind and just a joy to be around. I knew that although my trip would be short, it would still be two days of fun.

We walked around for a while because Katie forgot where she had parked her car but that allowed me to see more of the different parts of the city. Wherever I travel I always love seeing the streets and avenues of a city. There could be a hidden gem anywhere or there could be a cool looking shop. Who knows? I may never be in this place again but I’ll have that little trinket of information in my brain for when I’m an old fart telling nonsense stories to whoever will listen. God help my poor future wife.
We found the car and went to eat. As most people know I’m a picky eater and din’t eat pizza properly until I was 20 years old. Oysters wouldn’t have crossed my mind as a possibility for me and if I had my way I would still not know the taste. Katie ordered some and kindly gave me one. If I was to describe it in a kind way it would be that oysters taste like salty snot sliding down your throat. So give them a shot.
We had a few pints around Boston and ended up in a bar near the street that Paul Revere galloped down when he warned the citizens of the impending British troops. I could almost see it in front of my eyes, the sweaty hands hanging on for dear life as he raced to alert his city about the Brits. Maybe that was the Harpoon IPAs talking. After a few more creamy pints we left the city and made for Cape Cod. We met her boyfriend, Shea, at an Asian restaurant where we drank Muay Thais and ate dumplings. Afterwards, we travelled back to Shea’s house and told his Alexa system to leave us alone. We might have been drunk. After smoking a bit of the funny grass I started to see shapes and got a bit paranoid. All in all, it was a good first day, even if if I had ended the night in a state of absolute paranoia. Don’t do drugs, kids.

The next day was a busy one. We had breakfast in a lovely cafe near Shea’s house. There was no real plan for the day, which is one of my favourite things about Katie. You can have little events that you will do but the rest of the day is up to you. We stopped by a convenience store, got a 12 pack of IPAs and hopped in the car with no destination in mind. It turned out to be my favourite part of the trip. We drove from the bottom of the Cape to the top, passing through or stopping in most of the towns that dot the map. We parked up near beaches and got out and took some pictures. In Barnstable County we stopped by an old lighthouse. I can’t really remember the names of all the places because I was hungover and as I said, had some IPAs to get me through the afternoon, but they were beautiful spots. At the top of the Cape we stopped in Provincetown for a pint and got to walk the beautiful, cobbled streets. The bar we were in was extrmely old and the wood had warped in the floor but it was nice and warm. Harpoon was my new drink of choice.
After a while we drove back down towards home and caught some of Katie’s friends in an improv comedy show. It was hilarious. I had never been to a show like it before and although the crowd was small, the laughs were big. We met some of the performers afterwards at a local bar before going home. Before drifting off to sleep, Lil’ Bow Wow’s movie, Like Mike came on the t.v. and Katie recited the whole of the theme song, Basketball. I was amazed and hammered.

The final day was uneventful. We got food, I got some t-shirts and hats to remind me of the trip and before long I was catching another greyhound bus back to Manhattan. The trip was over far too soon and I was disappointed I couldn’t get to stay longer. However, the buildings don’t mind themselves, and they need a shmuck like me to do the nightshifts and write blogs about places I’d rather be and people I’d rather be with. I would highly recommend the Cape (that’s what people who know the Cape call the Cape, just deal with it, and don’t @ me), and for any J1s or people looking to make money, go when it’s in season between May and October. There’s money to be made from the rich kids further up and there’s fun to be had all over the Cape.

Nostalgia

At the end of the day, life is built on memories. Every new experience, group of friends and places we visit and live shape us as people. We make new memories everywhere we go. We spend 5 days a week for 14 years with our best friends in school, and often spend whole summers with them in between. We head off to college and make a new group of friends, sometimes losing touch with old friends and only consistenly seeing a handful. It’s new and it’s scary but it’s freeing. We have more freedom. Some of us graduate and some of us don’t. Some of us don’t go to college. Some of us move away and some stay at home. Some of us will get married and have children and some of us won’t. In all likelihood, some of us will live happy, fulfilling lives and some of us won’t. But we will all make memories. Sometimes it is good to take stock and reflect on where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

I am lucky enough to hold dual citizenship and don’t have to worry about overstaying a visa. A number of my friends here aren’t in that position and are forced to stay here until their status becomes more positive. I can head home at any time I want while they have to stay which makes me feel a bit of misplaced guilt. It’s not my fault that they can’t leave. The guilt comes from being able to satisfy my nostalgic needs if they get too high. I’m not one to let homesickness get the best of me but if there was ever a time that I needed to go home, I could. Nostalgia is a fickle friend, filling you up with happiness and longing all at once.

I follow alot of Irish tourism pages on Instagram and Facebook. I watch a lot of Irish t.v, sports and documentaries on t.v. and streaming services. I keep in touch with friends from home all over the world, thanks to the wonders of social media. I like to keep up with what is going on and scratch my itch of seeing home every once in a while. However, nostalgia and memories can creep up on you and leave you in a heap. A picture of Cork City from Patrick’s hill recently just dropped me back to when I was 11 years old and going to open nights for secondary school. Christian Brother’s School was on the list. I had a knot in the middle of my stomach as I walked through the school, knowing it was more expensive than the other schools. Even then, I worried about money. I knew this wasn’t the school for me and thankfully, despite one of my best friends going to that school, I chose Blarney, where I made other best friends. I chose Music as an elective even though I didn’t particularly like singing in public and only being able to play the tin whistle at an average grade. That class brought me my first girlfriend, constant laughs and most importantly, two of my best friends. We had trips to Dublin where we played Bullshit on the train and went to operas and didn’t understand them, secret looks that we shot at each other in class and inside jokes we would laugh about all the time. I went to different colleges than those friends from the class and we didn’t see each other as much anymore. I wouldn’t say we drifted apart but relationships and distance didn’t bring us any closer.

Thankfully, through living in different countriess and coasts of the same country, and with the help of modern technology, we’re still extremely close. Any awkwardness or distance is forgotten as soon as I see these two girls again and we go for food and gossip and chats. We talk about old times and new times and new memories we have all made in our respective new homes.
I have loads of other memories with these two and with all my close friends from home that I happen to think about randomly from time to time. I could list off pages upon pages of memories with other close friends but the fact is this particular picture put my brain on this particular path to think of these particular girls who I am very lucky to call my friends.
Sometimes I do feel guilty that my buddys here won’t get to see their homeland as soon as I can, but I know that in the future when we are all there together for a wedding or an event or just a casual meet-up, we’ll make new memories.