Once, I Lived in Ireland

Once. Just once. One time. One day, one weekend, one month, one semester. One moment. One memory. Once. Our lives are made up of thousands of “onces”. So many beautiful and funny and amazing and wonderful stories that we tell begin with a once. “Once when I was in college…” “Once I met this girl…” “Once I went skydiving…”

Once is also the name of a movie that takes place in Ireland. It was the first film that I saw there when I studied abroad, thanks to the weekly movie nights hosted by my university’s International Society. When I told a friend I was going to watch it, she warned me that she hadn’t liked it very much.

I actually loved it, and funny thing is I think I loved it for the same reason my friend didn’t. *Spoiler Alert!* The main couple in the film, who you are rooting for all along, don’t end up together. However (I’ll try to explain this without spoiling it totally) their story comes to a resolution that is bittersweet but beautiful, and reminds us that not everything good is meant to be an “always”.

Guy meets girl, guy flirts with girl, guy is impressed with girl’s musical talent. So guy and girl record an album together. But as I said, they don’t get together. They have their “once” and then go their separate ways. I like to think that in the aftermath of the story that the audience doesn’t see, they each look back on that memory fondly. “Once, I made beautiful music with this awesome guy/girl.”

There are a lot of “alwayses” in my life. My parents, my sisters, my cousins, my identity as a Catholic, the books I read over and over again, my PKU… But there are also a lot of “onces”. Once I worked in Manhattan. Once I went to a Catholic school. Once I lived in Ireland. Once I visited Egypt. Once I went bungee jumping. Once I was best friends with a certain girl from high school. These are all wonderful things that simply weren’t meant to become my “always”. I wasn’t meant to cancel my flight home, apply for a work visa, and settle in Dublin. I wasn’t meant to become a bungee instructor, train on how to hook up harnesses, and take the plunge three times a week. She wasn’t meant to follow me all the way through life.

I started to realize this shortly after seeing the film. The guy and girl had an undeniable connection, and the music they made was beyond beautiful. But they both had other things on their plates. They had other “alwayses” that were meant to be. Their Once was a wonderful memory that changed them for the better. So next time something doesn’t last, or it ends too quickly, or it turns out a little differently than you expected, remember: Once doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Once can be a beautiful thing too.

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