This time, two years ago, 4 in the afternoon. We waited out in the cold for ages, shifting weight from sore foot to sore foot, checking cell phone texts. “A. is coming in about 20,” I announced to my fellow freezing revelers waiting to get into the bar.
Staying at home wasn’t an option. It wasn’t on our radar screens at all. It’s St. Paddy’s Day, which means you go to an Irish pub wearing green to drink Guinness and Murphy’s. Naturally.
The wait should not be underestimated, and was as much a part of the festivities as the bar itself. It was long. Often over three hours waiting in a wraparound line to get inside where the barron is beating and the fiddle is screeching. People pass flasks, we cheer at the horn-hitting cars as they drive by, a flag propped out the window or a fella with his body painted green, orange and white.
The moment of truth: Will we pass the door man’s inspection? Will we find a spot to lay our coats?
Girls holding hands as we squeeze through the crowd. Find a spot to hide our purses under coats in the range of splashed beer and sticky bar residue. It didn’t matter. By the end of the night, we would be too.
Run to the bar, get started. Feet tapping unconsciously in time with the ballads we remember from years before. I pretend my name is Bridget O’Shaughnessy and people kiss my cheeks. Boyfriend finds a goofy green wig and wears it, even though we’ve no idea where it’s come from.
We crack pints against each others, and spill some down our arms. I recognize songs, like Barrett’s Privateers, and sing them at the top of my lungs. No one expects you to have a voice after St. Paddy’s Day.
"What's in your hair?" "I can't feel my feet!" "She totally made out with the bartender!"
The hours spent in the bar turn into blurry memories of bathroom trips, linking arms and dancing and a hilarious stumble home. It’s not so cold on the walk home, and high-pitched shrieks and messy laughs are the soundtrack for the end of the night across town.
This year is markedly different, not boring, but different. There are no Irish pubs in Whitehorse and I actually forgot to wear green today. I’ll cover city council’s meeting tonight and go home to a meal of chicken and yam fries with broccoli. At least my plate will be of traditional Irish colours. Points?
It’s a mark of how my life has changed. A natural progression whether I was here or at home? Maybe. I know I can’t scream my lungs out at bars on a regular basis like I did in school.
Nope, tonight’ll be a quiet one. My former roommate will no doubt earn tons of money working at our favourite Irish bar, and my friends who remain in Ottawa will probably go for a drink or two (not having to wait in line anymore, thank goodness, having connections with staff). I suspect they will call it an early night and will probably not paint shamrocks on their cheeks.
I ask myself: Are we growing up or growing boring? Do I cease to carpe diem because I do not celebrate it from start to finish? I tend to believe I am lame because I currently sit an an office desk counting down till quitting time, and that is certainly not seizing the day.
Best friend K and I decided it’s not boring--just different. Not living hour-to-hour with drinks and thumping bass and Facebook-intended photos and random things to recollect tomorrow as we all wake up in various states of comfort in an apartment built for one or two. Finding cherished happiness in sunset walks, food that tastes better because I made it, finding a passage that is written beautifully, interviewing a man who’s lost his house in a fire, that is what makes me days memorable now.
Not boring, different.