Mon 10 Jan 2011
There are some things so precious you want to keep them all to yourself, safely tucked away from prying eyes and inevitable opinions and questions. There’s safety in keeping something secret; it’s a preservation method, a way to keep something protected and allow space for growth without influence or distraction.
But this is a blog about my life here in Ireland, and it would be unfair to readers and downright untruthful to hold back on something as significant as this any longer. While I did slip in a little mention a couple of posts back, I have yet to elaborate. So here goes [*takes deep breath*]: I’m in love with an Irish man.
Before meeting him, I’ll admit I had almost given up on the idea of love. Keep in mind I’d been living in Los Angeles for many years prior to moving here, and dating in LA is about as enjoyable as pouring iodine on a paper cut. After dozens of first dates, ranging from OK to down-right terrible, I started to wonder how anyone actually connects with anyone. Though I saw couples all around me who obviously found each other somehow, it was starting to feel like the planets had to be aligned just so in order for two people to come together, find each other attractive, get along AND start an actual relationship. It’s kind of like staring at a word on a page too long; after a while, it starts looking foreign…and wrong. I’d examined the concept and ideology of dating so much that it was starting to morph into something I didn’t even recognize anymore.
And then, a mere 5 months after landing in Ireland, I met him. There was the great first date, one that started at the Bank Bar on College Green and ended with a hurried wave “goodbye” as I ran toward my train at Connolly Station. The absence of a kiss goodnight left me wondering if he was interested. A text before I even got home let me know he was. This was followed by many wonderful dinners out in Dublin (where he lives) and in Drogheda (where I live) and trips to galleries and walks around the city and many long conversations over many glasses of wine. There’ve been wanders around the second-hand section at Chapters bookstore, rambles on the beach in Bettystown and hikes up to Djouce (he is an avid mountain climber who took me to get hiking boots on our fourth date). And then there are times when we simply sit quietly and read the paper over cups of coffee. They say a test of a good relationship is when you can just sit with someone and say nothing and be OK. I know now what that means.
In him I’ve found a true partner; someone I can be myself around without apology or need for self-deprecation. While we have some major commonalities (we’re both journalists, for one), he also brings whole, new perspectives to the relationship. If you would have told me six months ago that I’d be climbing Croagh Patrick in the snow, I would’ve given you the subtle but you-so-crazy eye roll of disbelief. It’s not that I’d just follow my boyfriend up a mountain because I want to impress or please him. Being with someone who pushes himself in that way and who is as disciplined as he is inspires me. He inspires me to be better, to push harder and make more effort in every aspect of my life just by being who he is: a hard-working, patient man with a rock-solid character.
You’ll be hearing more about him in upcoming posts, but in an effort to respect his privacy (after all, it wasn’t his choice to write a tell-all blog!) I will refer to him as Mountaineering Man (MM) in future posts and keep his face hidden in photographs. But I wanted to share this much for now, as he’s been an important and big part of my life for the last few months and I have no doubt he’ll continue to be.
I guess this whole moving-to-Ireland craziness has worked out quite well!
Coconut & Cranberry Oat Bars
For me, there are few things more enjoyable than cooking for someone else. And now that I have someone to cook for, I’m doing a lot of it. MM really likes his food (thank GOD as I don’t think I could date a picky eater) so I’ve always got an eager and grateful taste-tester for all my recipes. Recently he mentioned a craving for coconut, so I whipped up this recipe for healthy but delicious Coconut & Cranberry Oat Bars. Enjoy!
180 grams whole rolled oats
125 grams wholemeal flour
200 grams brown sugar
80 grams unsweetened flaked coconut
170 grams dried cranberries
½ teaspoon baking powder
140 grams of melted unsalted butter, cooled slightly
4 fluid ounces real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 170 C degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, coconut, cranberries and baking powder and stir until well mixed. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Pour mixture over the oat mixture and stir until combined. Press into a foil-lined baking pan (I used a rectangular pan about 13x9x9) and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan and then cut into squares.