Disclaimer: This one will be less comical as the previous blog posts, so pass those tissues Sharon, my mascara has been streaming. This will be a rather sickly sentimental post about why I made the trip to Ireland and to Europe in general, but if you want to hear about the details of what I did in Ireland, you should definitely reach out and talk to me in person about it. Much love.
So, I left the Oxfam early last Friday morning for a very important trip to see a person who is incredibly close to my heart and has donated a lot of time, effort and love by encouraging me to become the (tragically emotional) person that I happen to be today. Before enrolling in university more than three years ago, I was very uncertain, insecure and conflicted with who exactly Cole Mills was. More often than not, closeted gay men have a very difficult “coming out”, so I want to emphasize that my process of self realization and discovery was a supported, incredible, and beautiful one. That isn’t often heard. There are good coming out stories and mine was definitely one filled with overwhelming acceptance, but that does not mean that the decade of social isolation, torment, self-loathing and disgust that I put on myself wasn’t there because it definitely was. I don’t like talking about the “closeted” version of myself, but you are all very fortunate to see the refined, “finished” product constructed by a trumendous amount of work done by a myriad of truly incredible people including moi. Erin Markle, the first friend in my young adult life, is near the top of that very distinct list and that is why it was so important for me to make it out to Ireland more than anywhere else during this entire trip.
Rewind to when I met Erin almost three years ago: June 30th, 2015, CSU Freshman Orientation. We were the two sole microbiology majors during our orientation and you know when you were at your orientation and you didn’t know anyone? Yeah, we were all scramblin’ and had a thirst for friendship and acceptance, so this Cali girl was the easiest opportunity I had to settle my internalized social anxiety for the next 36 hours. Little did I know that this wonderfully intelligent, supportive and beautiful girl would grow to be my confidant, co-worker and #1 advocate over the next three years. Thanks to whatever sentient beings were responsible for herding us to Eddy 12 and plopping us next to each other; little did those sentient beings know those would be the only words of thanks anyone had and will ever speak about the Willard O. Eddy building. Truly what a nightmare that facility is otherwise.
You may not be cryin’ in da club right now, but I am silently sobbing into my keyboard with the utmost gratitude for not only Erin, but for Colorado State University. For all of the infinite friendships, late night study binges in Morgan’s library, early mornings accompanied with fatigue and sins from the nights before, student organizations, job opportunities, internships, study abroad, Ramwiches from Braiden and (they were) roommates. And if I haven’t thanked you all, THANK YOU for making another opportunity, one of the best so far throughout my collegiate education so outstandingly and overwhelming fantastic. It is and has been a privilege.
So yes, Ireland was great. Oxford is fantastic, too. Colorado State even better than that. However… the people I have shared these places with were truly extraordinary.