What is it about Irish people? There has just been an election at home and as usual the corrupt party got elected and the right wing got decimated,(Hmmm is it possible to get decimated?).
The political landscape has been a strange one to grow up in. It is only now that I am no longer there, that I can define in a new way what it means to be Irish for me. It has little to do with Church or State even though I have been profoundly effected by both. I grew up in a poor, mostly homogenous, country, where usually the foreigners were tourists.
The Nigerians who came to eat with us, who worked in the same hospital as my mother, and the Arab guys who lived a few doors down, were exceptions. That I had contact with them at all was a priveledge and it is only now as I write I realise I was the only one in a neighbour hood of many children, who spoke and ate with these kind and gentle engineers from another country.
There are now more jobs than workers in Ireland, and it is a thriving multinational island on the west of Europe, and yet at it's heart too. Racism is still rife.
So what am I homesick for? My parents are selling the house they have lived in for over 50 years of marriage. My home will be sold. My home. Me?
My friends have either sold up and moved away, or lost contact with me and I with them. It rains a lot. I have never felt I belong there, neither to the religous conservatives, nor the sporting leftwing or the rich and nazi like right. I could string a few words of gaelic together, I knew where to get 'good' music, a decent pint, what places to avoid, and in a second, I could tell if there was going to be trouble. I could size a guy up by his walk and the look in his eyes, I could meet him on his own level because I have an uncanny ability to imitate, and a great visual memory for movement and body shape.
Maybe it is this. This knowing and understanding that I miss. I am like a man scuba diving without a tank. I speak and it is all bubbles, I hear and it is all muffled. I speak English, every phrase has to repeated. I speak French, every phrase has to be corrected. I don't know the faces, the kids look like adults. The adults act like children. I am completely thrown for six in fact. I am a man who is now swimming more often than in the whole of my life to this point, and yet I am a fish out of water.
I live in paradise. I am no longer in Tir na Og, (land of the young),Ireland.
How strange! I am reminded of the instutionalised who cannot function once set free in society. I am more than capable at home, here I struggle. This is the longing for home, the longing to walk into a bar, look accross the room see a complete stranger, smile, and know that in 20 minutes you will be engrossed in a damn good conversation over a decent pint and there is always fish and chips to eat on the way home. But can you ever really go back once you leave? A friend told me one time, the intelligent leave and grow, and do well, the stupid stay. How frustrating for the intelligent when they see they have arrived in Stupid land. Ignorance is not at all bliss, it is a terrible affliction, and yet I am homesick for my cold and damp ignorant island that is Ireland, that is Home.
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