Winning Dublin

By Rachel in California

As a current 30-year-old female millennial, there is one thing you can guarantee about my childhood: I loved Mary-Kate and Ashley movies. 

Every straight to VHS movie release meant my best friend and I were having a sleepover and devouring every last detail of the latest Olsen Twin masterpiece. We learned many life lessons from the girls, but the one that seemed to stick with me most was that I would meet a cute, age-appropriate, and emotionally available boy anytime I visited a new city. I believed this so deeply that I even wrote in my travel journal about my utter disbelief when this didn’t happen during my first trip abroad. Eventually, that initial shock wore off and I grew up to realize that the Olsen Twins are terrible actresses and their movies had little to no accuracy in them. Minus It Takes Two, of course, because we all want that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, world series kind of love.

Well, I’m sure you will all be thrilled to hear that years later, my Mary-Kate and Ashley dreams came true for one beautiful night in Dublin. The one in Ireland, just so we are clear, and know this will involve a cute boy with an accent.

I was 27, single, and had just finished graduate school. The trip to Ireland was my reward to myself for surviving an intensive one year graduate program without pulling all my hair out. This was my first ever solo trip, so I played it safe with a one-week tour group around the country, and rounded it out with three days in Dublin. Luckily, I ended up being able to spend those three days with one of the Australian girls I had befriended on the tour. We had a typical first day in Dublin as we did the tour of the Guinness Storehouse, ate dinner at the oldest pub in town, and then ventured to the Temple Bar scene for a night of fun. We danced, we sang, we drank lots of Guinness and ciders, and were gearing up to head back to our hostels when we happened upon a late night bar that was still open: Bad Bob’s. 

And yes, it was exactly the type of trashy two-storied late night dive bar you are envisioning right now.

Once we had explored the upstairs dance floor and assessed that we were definitely not on those people’s level of drunk, we grabbed drinks and made our way to the seemingly less crowded back bar. My friend being a bubbly blonde Australian girl, seemed to quickly catch the eye of a guy by the bar. He and his dutiful friend approached and we began having our respective conversations. They were two local Irish boys and while the guy I was talking to was indeed tall, attractive, and charming, I assumed this was a wing-man situation and just chatted for amusement. It wasn’t until the second time that this cute Irish boy weirdly kissed my cheek that it dawned on me that I had gotten this entire situation wrong. He asked why I dodged his two kiss attempts and I finally processed that I was not the wing-man but was actually the girl this boy had approached to flirt with. 

I promise that I am not usually this dense but boys approaching my pretty blonde friend had been a theme of that night. So with this new information in mind, the clear next step was to proceed to shamelessly make out with this Irish guy in the middle of the bar. 

I mean, when in Rome Dublin, am I right?

Before we knew it, it was time for our classy late night bar to close at 4:00am. And as I prepared to say my goodbyes to my tall Irishman, he asked me if I wanted to walk around the city and chat some more. I quickly assessed what might be the smart decision for a 20-something female traveling alone in a foreign country, and then asked myself, what would Mary-Kate and Ashley do? 

The decision became clear and I knew that this was my Olsen Twin moment.

It was still dark outside as we walked hand in hand, and he told me that he wanted to show me around his city. Few people were still out and about at this hour and it felt like the city belonged to us. We stopped in front of the famous Temple Bar to observe it sans tourists and drunk locals, as he told me stories of its history and made me pose for a silly touristy picture. Next we walked towards the river and crossed the Ha’penny Bridge, where more awkward photos of me were taken and I insisted on us getting a selfie together. I kept waiting for the moment that he would be creepy or say something weird, but we just told stories, laughed, kissed, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. The sun started to rise and I gave him an out as we were not far from my hostel, but he said that there was more of Dublin that he wanted to share with me. We headed towards Trinity College and got more photos outside its famous front gates and then walked all through Grafton Street to check out the typically crowded shopping area. I had lost all sense of time as we made it over to St. Stephen’s Green, which was closed, and presented us with a nice place to stop and make out for a bit.

Next thing we knew, it was past 7:00am and as normal humans were beginning to emerge to start their day, we decided it was a good idea to walk towards my hostel. As we walked back through the city, I had moments where I would look up at him and try to soak it all in. I wanted to remember how deep his voice was, how his arm felt around my waist, the way he had to actually bend over to kiss me, and the way we made each other laugh. In one early morning stroll, we covered so many topics, shared personal stories, and teased each other like we’d been together for years. 

It was a comfort and freedom that I had rarely allowed myself to experience with a man, and even when still in those moments, I knew I already missed them.

We got to the front door of my hostel and he asked how to contact me since we had discussed hanging out during the remainder of my time in Dublin. My phone was on airplane mode, What’sApp was not something I was acquainted with then, and the unreliable hostel wifi was of no help. He had an old crappy phone without internet access, so I gave him my full name and we were to connect on Facebook later that day. We kissed one more time and then I quickly walked through the hostel lobby hoping not to be judged by the front desk workers. Once safely in the hallway, I leaned against the wall and took multiple deep breathes. I was exhausted yet felt more awake than I had in a long time, and couldn’t even start to process the night I had just experienced. It was around 8:00am when I finally entered my six person hostel room and tried to sleep for two hours before my hiking plans later that day.

For the next 24 hours, anytime I could get on wifi, I was checking for a friend request or message from my beloved Irishman. When I didn’t hear from him, I attempted to look him up myself, because how hard could it be to find a guy named John in Dublin? As the end of my trip neared, I pushed away my disappointment and was able to have some clarity about the situation. If I never saw John again, our night would remain a perfect time capsule that couldn’t be ruined. Whether he had typed my name in wrong or chosen not to reach out, it didn’t change the amazing time and connection that we had in those early morning hours. Will a small piece of me always wish that I had heard from him and maybe even eventually moved to Dublin to have cute Irish babies? Of course. But he could have also turned out to be an asshole or I could have put my walls up again, completely altering my memories of a night I hope to never forget.

Now that it has been a few years, I am just thankful to have had that experience and to have forced him to take selfies as proof that it all really did happen. Even if we did not have that happy ending, I know that on that early May morning in Dublin, an Irish boy named John and I fell in love. Not all love is meant to last forever, sometimes one night is all you need to reignite your belief in the power of it.

And the Olsen Twins.

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