Fashion is the way I introduce myself to the world, every day, without saying anything.

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Today is my 29th birthday. I can’t really say I’m “in my 20s” anymore, and thank god I have another year to get used to saying I’m in my 30s. So where do I belong? I’m not a girl, not yet a woman. I pay my own bills, but my dad still palms me a $50 every time I go home. I feel like I’m stuck in a transition and it has me wanting to get in where I fit in.

I’ve wanted to go to Ireland ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always felt so proud of being Irish; even if I knew next to nothing about where I came from, it made me feel secure to be able to identify and place myself.

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This trip for me, on the eve of my birthday, has been almost overwhelming. On the flight over when the plane broke through the clouds, my eyes filled with tears. I imagined the people who came before me, people who are my family, living here. Falling in love here. Having babies who had babies who had babies who had me and my brother and my sister. It’s the sweetest, deepest connection, so beautiful to me that I almost don’t want to think about it.Processed with VSCOcam

Being here is like having a word on the tip of my tongue. It’s a haunting, near-knowing that I feel in my bones. I feel settled here, sunken and cozy and correct.

The other evening, my mom and I went to the pub to get a pint. There was a man playing Irish music, and we laughed at his jokes, sang along when we could and when he played Danny Boy, I bit my cheek and thought how much shit my friends would give me if they saw me crying.

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It’s just that, you never think about where you come from until you decide to. And when you do, it’s like opening the floodgates on your little heart. You think about the man and woman who chose a different life for themselves and said goodbye to their families knowing full well they would never see them again. Sure, I don’t know the details of their journey, but I know their names were Patrick and Mary and that’s enough.

Enough to imagine that I might have her nose. His legs. Her laugh or his stubbornness. Or none of that. And still I feel stronger just being able to imagine it.

Back at the pub, I settled up with the bartender, and when I gave him his tip, he looked me straight in the eyes (as all Irish people do – it’s really lovely) and smiled.

“Cheers love,” he said. “See you again .”

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all photos by allie for LRW
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