I'll be boarding my flight home in a little less than two weeks: as I watch my friends from other colleges prepare to leave before me, I'm reminded that my remaining time is incredibly short. Perhaps it isn't short enough to pack my things and say goodbye to familiar haunts, but it is time now to think about what things I will pack. It's time to think about what places I'd like to see one more time.
I'd like to spend a last thoughtful hour on NUIG campus, for instance, with its sprawling, narrow corridors overlooking mossy boxed-in courtyards. The long walk down the concourse will sound strange without hundreds of students, some milling about, others briskly on their way, adding their own echo to the mass. Perhaps I'll pop in to the dusty warm library and give myself the opportunity to smile at all the books I thought I'd read.
In downtown, too, there are places of which I'm fond – a lovely used bookstore, a new gelateria I'll be sad to leave – and then there are the streets themselves. I've talked about them before, but I think it's worth saying that Galway's streets are what I'll dream of and what I'll miss. There isn't anything like them anywhere else. I think I love them best because they don't remind me of any place but where I am: they are at the heart of all my experiences. As the particulars of certain shops start to fade, I will still remember the paths I took to get there. I haven't explored as much of the city as some of my friends, but my well-trodden routes have shown me their own little wonders as they've changed over four months. I have watched spring unfold in leaves, listened to birds I'll never hear back home, and moved late-night wandering snails off the path so nobody would tipsily step on them. I've shivered on my way out to pubs and sauntered back, satiated on curry chips. There aren't many nights that I've been out late, but all of them were memorable, and many of them were good.
But saying goodbye to these things is still a little ways off: my first goodbye will be to two of my flatmates and several of my floormates. I will miss them most of all. We've had dinner parties, dessert parties, and drinking parties; we've commiserated and encouraged and upheld. For all the normal ups and downs that come with sharing living spaces, I wouldn't change a thing.
Finally, I'll miss the locals I've come to care about. There's the man at the market who sells doughnuts and the one I go to for produce. There are the cashiers at Tesco and Evergreen who have seen me often enough to recognize me. And there are the people I've met through classes and societies. To all of these people I'd like to offer my thanks for their kindness, humor, and every other courtesy which they chose to extend to me.