Wednesday, 30 May 2018

My Love For This Dear Land

I love traveling, I really love seeing new places and hearing different accents and languages and seeing how the cuisine differs and how the locals treat each other. I love feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, feeling a greater love for the earth after seeing some more of its beauty. Traveling helps me to feel alive and it gives me goals, it gives me an ever-growing list of places to see and go back to.

But there is one place I've gone back to many, many times. One place that I long for when I'm elsewhere, the one place on the planet that I can truly call home. I have so many second homes on this planet, so many to be discovered, so many yearned for, but only one that I could never leave behind, and that place is Ireland. It's natural, I know, to love your own country and be proud of it. That's part of it, though I'm probably not the most outwardly patriotic person there is. I have never ever done anything on Saint Patrick's Day to mark the occasion. I've never tried Guinness. I can't play any Irish sports and have never really wanted to be able to. The feeling I have is something different to pure patriotism. It's something closer to peace.

The buses, taxis, airports, airplanes, trains back to my country always seem long but always so thrilling. There is nothing like the feeling of coming back home with foreign presents in my suitcase and stories to tell. I'm the person who smiles on the plane, despite being shafted a middle seat on a busy flight, because I think about where I'm headed, and can't wait to be reunited with my land and my people. I'm a homebody, through and through.

My country is not a fairytale land. My country is not a fully happy place or always an energetic place. It can be a depressing place to be sometimes. There are dismal days due to grey skys and bad news. Not everyone you meet there is friendly or good. There is crime. There are crises, money crises, housing crises, homelessness, hunger. There are political divisions and people who spread hate rather than love. There are people who will never understand me, nor I them. We are not one big family. We are people with a spread of values, a spread of experiences and a spread of worries on one small island.

Nevertheless, there are so many people I love who dwell on my island. The vast majority of my family lives in Ireland. While not everyone lives near me and the train and bus connections aren't the best, we can still see each other in less than four hours of travel if we wish to. When I come home, as well as to the land, I come home to them, to tell them things and hear their voices in real life and hug them and feel safe. My friends too, whilst now living in different locations across the globe, have sprung from a connection we made in this country. Many of them are still here. I don't see them enough, and it's something I need to change. Still, my country is the feeling of friendship, the feeling of dear family.

There are other little things about this island that I love and never say. I love how you can open the windows when it's hot in the summer and not worry about mosquitos coming in to disturb you. I love how we all get the same ideas when it's sunny and go to the same places, beaches, canals, parks. You're never alone in your thought. I love the way Irish people use their language. I love that we're not straightforward, I love that we want to make each other laugh. I love that there are so many trees in this country, that there are sheep and cows and hares. I love the many little creatures I get to see, I love the places we get to walk. I love that Irish writers have captured this land for the good and bad. I love that they deserve the recognition they get. The weather is constantly complained about. It does rain an awful lot, and there's no point in buying sandals if you intend to stay home for the summer, but I love that when it's even a little bit warm, everyone is out in shorts and t-shirts and sundresses, when all of the tourists find it too cold. I love this island's quirks. It makes it easier to fit in.

When I go away again, not too long from now, I will go away with a familiar feeling of anxiety. It starts with "will I like it there?" and ends with "will I miss home too much? will I manage that long without my family?" and it's always fine. It's always good, because travel fuels my soul, but it also fills me with an admiration for what I have. It humbles me and makes me grateful for where I live. I've never visited a place I didn't like. I've never left a place without feeling sad that I couldn't bring a piece of it with me, but I've also never once been sorry to come home.


photo taken with the iPhone SE

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