It has been twelve days, more or less, since I left Europe for the last time in a while. Although I moved out of Dublin on May 24th, I returned ever so briefly to its airport for about seven hours on the 29th for a connection to JFK in New York.
Being back in the States is kind of surreal. My first thought upon getting back to Binghamton and seeing everything in daylight was that it looked like nothing had changed. Aside from my brothers growing ever more obnoxiously tall, everything seems pretty much as it was. I expected some things to be drastically different, but really, they’re not. It’s almost like my time in Dublin was part of a black hole that I just got spat out of, right back into America As It Always Is.
But that’s not true, of course, and I miss Dublin terribly. I miss being able to walk into town whenever I felt like it, or take the bus if the weather was bad. I miss the food that I got used to buying in Dublin; I’m trying to figure out how to make the food I made there with what they have at the grocery stores here, and I’m finding it difficult. Hearing American accents everywhere is still kind of unnerving. It took me no time at all to get impatient with how tax is done here: it’s got to be approaching six or seven times that I’ve tried to pay the sticker price for something only to get told with tax that it costs more. VAT built in makes so much sense! Why doesn’t America get this?! Why?! Along with that, my wallet feels so light that I’m constantly weirded out by it. Instead of 50 p, 1 and 2 euro coins weighing down the change pocket, I have practically weightless dollar bills and quarters which look thinner and feel lighter than I remember. In the twelve days I’ve been here, I’ve been a victim of sunburns twice, which is more than the sum total of the nine months prior. Urgh.
What I miss most of all, however, is my friends. Being in America, away from the places which I associate with them, I don’t have to deal with the sting of walking into a room or going past a place we used to meet up and knowing I won’t see them there again, but I can’t shake the feeling that I’m on a vacation in America. Intellectually, I know that I packed up my room, sold most of my things, gave some (read: a lot) of things to an unwitting friend who’s staying in Dublin and popped by for dinner one night. I remember closing the door on that room, on my flat, and seeing it clean and empty and knowing it wasn’t really home anymore. But still… there’s a part of me which is confused when I wake up in the morning and see the wrong room, and sometimes before I open my eyes I still think I’m there, and I wonder whether I have any bread for toast or if today’s the day it was meant to have gone off. There’s still that expectation that I’ll be back there, soon; that I’ll go back and my flatmates will filter in and out of the kitchen and there will be snarky notes on the kitchen table or (frankly terrifying) paper eyes stuck onto a pineapple again.
I’m usually pretty good at moving, but this one has been harder than usual. I’ve said it before, and it’s true: it wasn’t hard to go to Dublin, because I knew America would be waiting for me, more or less as I knew it, when I returned. But leaving Dublin was tough because the networks I became a part of there are no longer intact, or at least not physically attached to that place. Luckily, with facebook and skype and general internet technologies, it’s not hard to keep in contact with the friends I made there, who have gone home to eight different countries around the world, but it’s really not the same as being able to rely on seeing them sometime soon.
Every time I see someone here for the first time since I’ve been back, they ask me, “What was your favourite part about Ireland?!” And honestly, I don’t know. I just kind of lived there, and all the pieces of living there moulded together to make my time there incredible. There’s no one thing I can point to and say, “It was that,” because I wasn’t a tourist, and my experiences there didn’t exist in a prepackaged, meals included, bubble. The city, the country, the culture, my friends, the classes I attended, the essays and exams I dragged myself through, the trips I took, the ducks I spent a ridiculous amount of time staring at: they all amount to something that I can’t explain with words, but that I can’t separate them from either. If my time living in Dublin has taught me one thing, it’s that I would like to move there permanently when I’m older. We shall see how that lines up with my job prospects, but I got to Dublin once, I’ll figure out how to do it again.
Until then, Ireland, Slán go fóill.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hannah Vose is a University of Rochester junior, majoring in English with an interest in literary translation studies. When not burying her nose in whichever book has most recently been plucked from atop the dangerously tall pile on her desk, she can be found obsessively learning new languages, squinting through her (very stylish, thank you!) bifocals at someone else's writing in her job as a Writing Fellow, drinking stupid amounts of tea, squinting through her bifocals at her own writing in her job as a scathing self-critic, or dreaming of living somewhere which gets even less sun than Rochester. Born in England but having lived most of her life in Endicott, New York, she has traveled back to the Land of Her People twice and visited Dublin once on the way over. She considered applying to Trinity College as an international student, but was deterred by tuition costs (yikes!) so she's absolutely 100% thrilled to be living in Dublin and taking classes at Trinity for an entire year (and only about 34% of that is because she might get to take a class on Patrick McCabe -- will it happen? Stay tuned!)</span></p>