How do you describe a perfect moment? How do you begin to capture all the things that aligned, the nuance of emotions and feeling in the air, to accurately capture that exact moment? And to take that sentiment further - how do you capture a series of perfect moments, all occurring over one week?
Well, I'm going to do my best to try.
It all started with my trip to London last Monday. It's strange to think that at this time exactly one week ago, I was freezing my arse off at Gatwick South Terminal, tapping into Hertz's WiFi while I waited on my bus to London town.
The two days I spent there with Kells Bells was the remedy for my soul that I didn't even know it needed. We caught up, laughed, cried - particularly at the belated birthday present of a friendship scrapbook I gave her - and did what best friends do. We spent Monday night in my hotel (St Giles just off Oxford Street, cannot recommend it enough) and Tuesday, gallivanted all over the town, taking selfies and making memories at every pitstop along the way.
I returned home late Tuesday night, exhausted yet buzzed, finding myself stark awake in the middle of the night unable to switch off. I knew there was so much more to come from the week.
As a result of getting dates mixed up, I had Wednesday off with no book launch and a day in work on Thursday with a book launch. The best laid plans, and all that jazz...
Following through on some wise advice, I took the brief opportunity of Wednesday to have a day of R&R. I indulged in some Audrey Hepburn and (attempted) to get an early night.
Thursday heralded the day of the book launch and I have to confess, if I hadn't been in work until 5pm I probably would've been much more nervous than I actually was. Instead, the day went by in a flurry of "Is it tonight? What time?" texts and confirmations, doing my job, and a whole minute and a half devoted to the speech I had been asked to give later on that night.
My outfit change at lunch (the only time I had to do it was before lunch) elicited some strange looks and teasing banter in the Newsroom. Dot on 5pm, I trotted off to the launch with the bells of "Good Luck!" and "You'll knock 'em dead!" ringing in my ears.
As I sat down the back of the 46A, changing into my heels like the classy gal that I am, the enormity and sense of the impending occasion began to dawn on me. As I felt my heart begin to match the pace a hummingbird's, I took a few deep breaths and repeated to myself it would be grand, it would all be grand.
I met Mammy Gloria outside Trinity College and she looked beautiful. I'm not sure I was able to convey to her in that moment how much it meant to me that she was coming with me, and had made so much effort to do so. The two of us made our way through the cold night on Dame Street, hooking a left and right here and there, before finding ourselves outside The Gutter Bookshop: destination, launch.
How do I describe what it was like to see that book on those shelves? Knowing that my contribution was now housed amongst my favorite writers - Hemmingway at the back, Fitzgerald just ahead. I am by no means comparing myself to the heights of their greatness. But there is no class system in book shows, all words are treated equal. So in this way, we are the same. Seeing rows and rows of this book that contains the words I clacked onto my laptop over a year ago... The reality of it all became, well, real.
The launch itself was a really magical night. I was humbled and honoured by the people who made an effort to personally be there for me, to champion my cause. I was so happy they were there to share in the moment because the truth is, without them, I wouldn't be able to be me.
This was the harmony that played into the song of my speech and yes, it only took me 90 seconds to write it, but that's because there was really only one thing I could say when I got up behind that podium - that head and shoulders, above everyone else, I could not have done any of this without my Mum.
By the time I finished speaking, I think we were all a little emotional in that room... Especially my Mum. At one point I had to stop looking at her when I was talking because I could feel my eyes welling and my eyeliner game was way too much on point to ruin that shiz.
I was humbled again and again that night; seeing the book, being called up in front of everyone, thanked broadly and personally for sharing my story... Men and women, old and young, came up to shake my hand, hug me, thank me for who I am and what I do... And I could feel my head spinning with the amazement of it all.
In your darkest silence or on a bleak day, it's hard to imagine these moments. A Martin Luther King Jr quote comes to mind: Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase. It's rather hard to believe in that which you cannot see, which you cannot imagine.
There have been many moments in my life when I could not see the staircase - but I took a step anyway. It turns out that it doesn't matter so much what direction you take; what's important is putting one foot in front of another. Of the many thoughts and feelings I've experienced through events over the last week, a common theme circles in my head - each and every step and mis-step has brought me to this place, to this moment.
In the grander questions of the meaning of life and why things happen, I doubt I'll ever find an answer in my living days. In both good times and bad, we question why things are the way they are (in varying tones, of course). We're an inquisitive bunch, with a curiosity for the workings of things -which is a hunger that will never be satiated.
We question where we've been, ponder about where we currently are, and are dying to know where we're headed. It's a particular weakness of mine; the conflicting desire to fly with the wind and at the same time, have a course mapped out in my back pocket.
But the most wonderful things occur from the unexpected, the unbelievable, the seemingly-impossible occurrences, that become the mechanics of your life.
In my contribution to the book, in the final paragraph, I wrote "Speak an honest sentence and go from there. You won't regret it. You won't look back." I'd like to make an addendum to that - Take the first step, even if it feels like it's into darkness, even if you think there's no stairs. You won't regret it. It will bring you to where you're meant to be.
"You, Me and Everybody we Know" is available in bookstores and on Amazon