Sad to say, I must be on me way,
So buy me beer and whisky 'cause I'm going far away,
I'd like to think of me returning when I can ...
— The Pogues, 'Sally MacLennane', 1985

Returning to the States

Along the Cliffs of Moher
near Doolin
County Clare, Ireland

In early August of 1985 I was 20 years old and living in hostels in Ireland. I had a backpack, a passport, and a yearn to travel. So what did I do?

I went home.

The thought crossed my mind that I should head to the Continent and find work for the Winter. I knew how to live cheaply and save money, so why not keep going around the world? I had several travelers offer to help get me settled in multiple countries, but I told them that I really wanted to get back to New Hampshire and finish my degree.

I had enjoyed my trip so much more than I had expected, and it had opened me up to a world of new understanding — the door was now open to another fortuitous adventure that was mine for the taking. The only problem was that I also had The Plan. The Plan had been my bearing point when I left UNH. The Plan had been what sustained me through a long and often lonely winter. The Plan was what enabled me to permit myself to risk permanently derailing my lifetime aspirations in order to be in Ireland that very minute. The Plan was that I would travel for the summer and then go back to school.

In the end I followed The Plan.

Looking back I also realize there was more to it than that. Being out on my own in another country had made me realize how young I still was. Much as I would have liked to have been ready to venture completely into the unknown I was not prepared to take that kind of a plunge yet. I realized that the kind of travel I wanted to do required a very strong sense of who you are - and I did not have that yet.