How did it come to this?
Born on a cold Irish night in December 1985, Keith Bohan vowed never to speak of himself in the third person.
Growing up on the mean fields of rural Ireland, his love of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles almost killed him- and the esteemed guests of his 8th birthday party.
While Keith’s parents were cleaning up the kitchen, he convinced his friends- and that one kid he was forced to invite- to crawl down a manhole in his garden to see Michelangelo, Splinter, and the lads.
A large boulder- placed there by his Dad the following day- would cover this manhole for the rest of eternity.
An unexplainable affinity for the music of Garth Brooks was perhaps the first clue that he would spend time in Midwest America in the years to come.
Before that, though, he had the worlds of restaurant dish-washing, bar glass-collecting, and toy store bag-packing to master in his teens. Which he did, with walking colours. Yes, the ‘u’ in colours was intentional.
An epic journey
The most traumatic journey he has ever made, to this day, was the perilous 15-minute bus journey into the dangerous, sprawling metropolis of Galway city (home of some 60,000 people at the time) for his first day of high school.
On the bus, he gazed back at the life he was leaving. He returned at 5pm that same day.
After high school, the journey to college was a stone’s throw away. After being reprimanded for throwing stones at fellow college-goers, he spent three successful years at National University of Ireland and a not-so-successful one.
Some blamed an over-active social life for Keith getting Glandular Fever and The Mumps simultaneously during this annus horribilis. Keith put it down to bad luck.
With a Masters in Irish Studies now in his hand, he went to the only place you can use such a niche degree: San Diego.
Unfortunately, the notion of Irish Studies was too far ahead of its time for SD. He rented a van with 8 immigrant friends and drove 10 hours across California to San Francisco. Well, he slept; Dave drove.
Irish Studies was not wanted here either, surprisingly, so he did the next closest thing: furniture removals.
After a long and happy career in San Francisco furniture removals, he moved to New York City after 2 months.
Although it was gut-wrenching to turn his back on the glamorous lifestyle of lifting pianos up 15 flights of stairs, only to realize the stairwell narrowed at the top and the piano would need to come down again, he somehow managed.
The Big Apple
These were the halcyon days of 2011 New York. He got a job in the most trendy, artistic part of the city. A Times Square Irish bar.
The interview process was rigorous, and the intricate questions would ring in Keith’s ears for weeks to come:
‘Are you Irish?’ and ‘Can you start tomorrow?’
For over a year, he served the great and good of the city’s theater district. One day he left work with $11 in tips after a 7-hour shift.
In those days $11 was a lot of money, and he put it away for safe keeping after his $20 cab ride home to Astoria, Queens.
But all good things- like visas- must come to an end. He gave in his notice to Robert Emmett’s bar on 44th and 8th; the bar where he had drank with Kiefer Sutherland, and served celebrities like Frasier’s agent in Frasier and that guy who was in that thing.
It was finally time to return to Ireland.
He booked his flights home, and then his wife-to-be walked into his bar.
“Life is so simple,” he mused.
They decamped to London together; the Irish man and his Midwestern girlfriend. After he left, Robert Emmett’s closed down. 3 years later. Coincidence?
London was electrified with the 2012 Olympics. Keith competed in the daily 100m sprint from the train to get to his bar job on time.
Rachael studied Shakespeare at the prestigious LAMDA, while Keith told himself he was a writer who bartends without putting pen to paper from the years 2010- 2012 in case he was proven wrong.
The Olympics, like the summer, came to an end and they left London. The bar Keith worked at closed in early 2016. Coincidence?
They returned to NYC, where Keith worked at a Hell’s Kitchen bar called The Snug that has since closed down.
And somewhere down the line, he decided it was time to see if he was a writer who bartends, or a bartender. Back to Ireland, he went, for a Masters in Writing.
Okay, home for real this time.
Taking life a week at a time- Rach in NYC, Keith in Galway- they tried to figure out how they could be in the same place at the same time. Or at least the same continent.
Rachael, an indomitable character- you know the type- moved to Paris on a one-way ticket where she got a job as a bike tour guide. No, she didn’t speak French.
Keith soon followed, and would henceforth begin every sentence with ‘When I lived in Paris…’
They spent that Christmas in Ireland.
A modest proposal.
On Christmas Eve, Keith proposed. The prehistoric castle he proposed at has since closed down.
Rachael said yes. Finally, life was simple as the newly engaged couple planned two large weddings for two large families in both Ireland and Missouri from their New York apartment.
What had been living week to week, became dollar to dollar until they were married- twice- tying a double knot.
After a stint working at the same NYC startup- Keith as a copywriter, Rachael in sales- they realized that life was too short.
The traveling begins.
Although life is still too short, these too-short days now fly by in Europe. Keith is a traveling copywriter and Rachael runs her own boutique travel business, For The Story Vacations.
As of March 2017, Europe has not closed down.