Going Back to Ireland

Funny, but this is the way I always think of it. I wasn’t born in Ireland. Neither were my parents or grandparents. But from the time I can remember, I was always going to go ‘back’ to Ireland. It might be because that was the way my Grandpa spoke, and my mother. As if we’d only meant to visit the US for a few years and somehow forgot to catch the boat home. It was the first foreign country I wanted to visit. It’s the only place on earth that I want to buy land. It figured in dreams and pride and memories that took on mythical proportions over time. And so by the time I finally went, it should have been a disappointment.

Not even close. I can vividly remember sitting in the plane as we came into final approach to Shannon. It had, predictably, been cloudy, a grim gray that wrapped the plane like batting. I kept my eyes focused out the window, though, waiting, breathless (really) for the first sight of that legendary green. I was trying not to hope for too much. After all, it was fall, and back home the ground was as gray as these clouds. The trees were at the end of color, and the sun rested lower in the sky. What could I honestly expect?

A miracle. At least to me. Suddenly, from one breath to the next, those clouds frayed like pulled cotton, and for just a second, I saw it. Blue-green. Chartreuse where the sun shone through. A checkerboard, an ocean, a stained glass window constructed f greens and blues and yellows.

A hint became a suggestion, and suddenly, like a magician pulling back a cape, it was there. And it was everything I’d dreamed of. Everything, I think, my mom and grandpa had dreamed of. I know a thousand and one people could look at that same sight and say, “Why, isn’t that pretty?”. But there are others, like me, who lose their breath too entirely to speak. They feel the sudden swell of wonder and don’t even realize that there are tears on their neck. They hear a funny voice in their head that just says home.

I contend that there is some one spot on earth for everyone that says the same thing. The landscape seems to embrace you, to comfort you like a friend. The air is purer somehow, the sun more sweet (notice I didn’t say brighter. I am, after all, talking about Ireland). Even if you’re lucky enough for it to be your own back yard, if you pay close enough attention, you’ll feel the world slip into place. You’ll hear that seductive voice in your head. “You’ve come home.”

That’s the voice I heard that day in 1983. It’s the voice I hear every time I go home. Yeah. I’ve long since given up. I might never have the money to actually buy land there. I might forever be the visitor from the US. But when I’m here and see that particular shade of green, a hot yellow spring green that turns inexplicably blue in the shade, I know. I really am home.

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