It was dark when my plane touched down at Shannon airport, so I couldn’t see that I would be landing in what could quite possibly be the smallest airport I have ever been in. Not exactly how I pictured the grand entrance to my new life.
As I sat at the Atlantic Coffee Co. on the other side of the Atlantic, inside the airport waiting for my bus to Cork, I counted 1 coffee shop, 1 newsstand, 6 rental car stands, 2 strands of Christmas garland with glittering lights, 1 green “meeting point” sign and, well, that’s about it. Quite different from my days landing at Heathrow, fresh off a posh ride, glancing around for Victoria Beckham, tummy happy with the hot cinnamon buns served at breakfast, clad in my London travel outfit: A long gray cashmere sweater, black leggings, black high boots, lavender pashmina, and Mulberry purse — the purse that has come with me everywhere. Quite different to those Heathrow days, but not necessarily better or worse. Just different.
On January 1st, I packed up my purse, I bought some new boots, and I started my new life. It feels weird to say it, and I’m not sure how long it will take me to get used to it. To saying it and to it being true. My job of six years ended on December 31. I’ve challenged myself not to think about what I’ve left behind but rather what I am taking with me from it all. A life in London and trips all over the world; my Godson and his mom; a year in a San Francisco start-up rent-a-desk dungeon that smelled like onions and engineers; monkeys outside my hotel window in South Africa; the smells of Chelsea Market wafting up from below my cube; proper Thanksgiving dinners with all of my coworkers; teaching the Brits about Thanksgiving (and sidewalks and buckets and nuggets and how you might ping someone); the day we pressed the LIVE button on ulive.com, the day we pressed the goodnight button on fineliving.com; a salted-caramel apple pie lesson from the ladies of Four and Twenty Blackbirds with one of my favorite ladies on the International team; countless laughs from one often-inappropriate mustached video guru in Knoxville; lots of wise yoga quotes that kept me going on the tough days; breakfast burritos on Leather Lane with my London ladies; shopping at Liberty with my Canadian partner in fashion crime; a New Zealand/British family of cheery faces that I will meet up with around the world for the rest of my life; baumkuchen from Japan; sticky bun emergencies; show tunes, lots and lots of show tunes; baking with my favorite five-year old; 800 photo galley captions about bedrooms; the night at the Mexican restaurant in the Meatpacking District that started it all; brisket in my purse; learning lots of things about China, sharing office supplies with my cube-mate from Maine; running in Hyde Park with a marathoner; my first treacle tart, my first Scotch Egg, and tons of London Jack flags; creating the best peanut butter frosting I have ever tasted in a bakery basement in London during the riots; a life-changing trip to Dublin; white boards full of funny quotes and priceless memories; Alec Baldwin’s hair; baking scones in the SF office kitchen, eating hot paratha in the UK office kitchen; a Hackday win (that sadly went nowhere); Cupcake Week, Cupcake Week Part Deux, and more cupcakes; teaching my baking protege how to use a piping bag and watching her skills explode (in a good way) in the kitchen; new friends, helping hands, loving hearts and all that sappy jazz… and more. So much more.
And so I’m starting a new life filled with cows and pigs and chickens and things, on a farm, in Ireland, where I cook every day and plan what’s next. One week in and I already can’t imagine a future without cooking in it. Of all the journeys I’ve been on in my life, I think I’m most excited about this one.