October 18, 2017.
Somehow, a year has come and gone since the day I watched the Emerald Isle disappear into the clouds.
It was difficult to say goodbye. I’d made friends there. I’d created a family. I attended a church I loved. I’d worked three jobs, one of which finally put me in my field, however temporarily. My life was there, in that county known as Cork.
My mom’s life started in Springfield, when she graduated and moved out on her own. Grandma’s life began somewhere in New Jersey. Great-Grandma’s started the day she got on the ship to America. My other grandma’s started when she left Indiana. My own life in the US has begun in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after leaving Springfield again for hopefully the last time.
But, before that, it began in Douglas, Cork; Little Island, Cork; Bishopstown, Cork; Blackpool, Cork and Cork city.
I knew all along that the arrangement was temporary. Still, when I received that visa in the mail, I couldn’t begin to fathom how much my time there would affect me - or how much it still does.
In particular, here’s seven things I can’t quite seem to shake off since moving back:
1. Put that in the bin.
Oh...I mean...garbage can.
First and foremost, it’s much harder than it seems to re-accustom oneself to American lingo. Don’t say “what’s the story/craic;” you surely meant “what’s up.” Ask how someone is, not how they’re keeping. Signing off with kind regards will probably elicit laughter from co-workers (especially if his name is Andrew.) Thanks a mill? Nah, dude, it’s just a plain thank you. That lift you’re waiting for is called a ride, unless you actually meant Lyft. People don’t go on holiday; they take a vacation. What’s a queue? Cheers to what? Kebabs are that stick thing with fruit or cheese slices, unless you’re referring to a gyro? And by the way, your numbers are totally mispronounced. You said 50? Sorry. I heard 15. Was that 17 or 70? Are you sure you said 30, not 13?
2. Okay, but where in Ireland?
Mom has news. She spoke with someone who is from or lived in Ireland. Isn’t that cool? Of course it is, you say, but what county? Oh, she didn’t ask. Mom, you say, you need to find out the county. It’s like someone saying they’re from the US. You’re bound to ask the state. Do the same for Ireland. And is the person by chance from Cork? (This also goes double when talking to people about where they travelled in the country. Get the specifics, people!)
3. The aching desire to travel.
The more travelling one does, the greater the desire to keep exploring. Living abroad for a year was not nearly enough time. There are still many things to imagine doing. Went to the Cliffs of Moher and Kilkenny Castle? What lovely experiences. Still, didn’t get to Cobh, Kinsale or Galway. Wasn’t anywhere near Northern Ireland. Saw Austria once? It was only for half an hour, not nearly enough time. Traipsed around Paris? Brilliant, but didn’t get to Versailles. Walked through Edinburgh? Beautiful, but don’t forget those Highlands you didn’t get to see when the hurricane hindered plans. Spent nearly every day of 360 days in Cork? 365 days later: when can I go back?
3. Writing is frustrating.
Seeing u’s where there aren’t any. Confusion about how to spell “travelling.” It’s traveling? Are you sure? But I’ve always spelt cancelled with two l’s. Since when is it one? (Apparently, since always.) Colour looks better than the alternative. Words that include z’s seem strange. Isn’t there supposed to be an s, instead? The date. Oh, the date. August 31. No. 31 August. No. A compromise: the 31st of August. This, of course, is only used among friends. On work documents, just suck it up and pretend August 31 isn’t weird.
4. Somehow everyone knows
even the Uber driver.
There’s just no way around it. If people ask where you’re from, it’s going to come out. All over, you say, prompting an explanation. Well, I was born and raised in California until I was 10. I spent my adolescence in Missouri and left for college in Colorado when I was 17. Five months in Florida during college, six years in Colorado, back in Missouri for the summer after graduation and then I, uh, livedabroadforayear, back to Missouri for a year and now I’m here.
Abroad? they ask. Where?
Ireland, you respond, trying to avoid the inevitable onslaught of memories.
I’ve always wanted to go there. My family’s from Ireland, they tell you.
Oh, you should visit. It’s incredible, you say in your best persuasive voice.
And then, if the person is a college student or approaching graduation, you proceed to tell them exactly how they can.
5. Oh yeah, and if anyone has visited, be prepared to spend a bit longer in that art shop where your roommate just nipped in for a quick look and you happened to learn that the owner’s been to Ireland five different times.
6. Still follow the Irish media on social networks.
Hey, it never hurts to keep up on the presidential debates, right?
7. Planning your next visit.
So...when can I go back?