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Living Abroad, Missing Home

An Irish Independence Day

July 4, 2014

The alarm went off at 6:00 am this morning…as it does everyday around here. For the first time in weeks it was overcast enough to have to turn the lights on in the house. For a moment I thought to myself;

“that’s it, that’s the end of our Irish summer, and to think it’s only the 4th of July.”

Wait today is the 4th of July?!?!

I mean of course I KNEW what day it was, but somehow it crept up on me this year. I was totally unprepared for it.

I went in to get the Prince out of bed and was tormented with pangs of homesickness and guilt all mixed into one.

Happy 4th of July to my little Irish-American Prince and Princesses & not one thread of red or blue clothing seemed to be clean.

Not one salad of blueberries & strawberries with fresh cream for breakfast.

Oh well, in Cork it was another Friday morning and the end of a very long week. There was a real sense of “let’s just get this week over with” to me.

By the time we made it to my in-laws to drop the kids off I had already forgotten what day it was…maybe that was some sort of self preservation thing. But they were there with open arms, hugs & kisses & offers of a cup of tea before I headed off. Sure how else would they mark the morning of the 4th?

At tea break, as I was tucking into a fresh made scone with jam and butter I almost hung my head in shame when asked what I was doing to celebrate today.

How did I let this happen? I usually take today off! I usually pull out all the USA books and puzzles we have for the kids! I usually have the BBQ (& umbrella) ready to go!

Not this year. What’s worse was when I came home I realized our dinner was actually Shepherd’s Pie. I’m not so sure you can get more un-American.

The kids were happy, the World Cup was on in the background & all I felt was for the first time in a really long time I felt like a foreigner here and it was all my own doing somehow.

And as much as Ireland is my home now. I will always be homesick for home. Especially on the 4th of July.

Expat Life, Love Ireland, Missing Home

TEN

June 30, 2014

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This October will be my 10th Irish birthday or as some expats in Ireland like to call it- my 10th Eire-versary. There will have to be some celebration to mark the occasion, I just haven’t figured it out yet.

It seems impossible that it will be a whole decade since I landed here with two suitcase and not even a rain coat.

I remember telling my mom they day I left I would be back in two years.
She simply said “You won’t.”
Moms are always right.

What started out as a two year stint to have Europe at my feet has become…..life.
An unexpected, far from perfect but joy filled life.

I have without a doubt lived more of my adult life in Ireland.
I have owned more cars in Ireland.
Lived in more houses.
Had more hospital admissions.
Had massive successes.
Experienced great saddness.

Ireland is home…..Syracuse is home.

Is it possible that as an adult I am more Irish while my inner child/teenager remains American at heart?
With every passing day I become more at home in my new country, but I still hold on to my native identity with all my strength.
I catch myself correcting my language…it is NOT ‘rubbish’ it is still ‘trash’ and some days I am making it a point to teach my dual passport holding children to be more AMERICAN. I wonder if it’s all in vain. Should I somehow learn to let go and just be?

Ten years is a LONG time.
I mean it’s a significant amount of time in my life thus far.
And yet I’m still not ready to leave (although I do reserve the right to change my mind).

As I reflect back on the past decade I can’t help but wonder what the next decade will bring. And in another ten years time will I still be lucky enough to have the dilemma of having two homes?

What have you been up to the past ten years?

Living Abroad, Missing Home

Nomophobia

October 30, 2013

Today’s word of the day is……nomophobia.

Nomophobia: the fear of being out of mobile phone contact, or without your phone.

Apparently it’s actually short for no-mobile-phone phobia.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is an irrational fear…most phobias are irrational fears anyway right?

Some people have phobias about the dark, spiders, being alone.  Not me, I am certainly suffering from nomophobia.

At least once a day I have this heart racing moment where I think “I’ve lost my phone!!!!!” only to realize I didn’t dig deep enough in my bag, or it’s in the other pocket of my jeans.

photo courtesy of http://cuboiart.blogspot.com

I am always feeling that loss of breath when my phone slips out of my hands and lands face down on the concrete and I think “oh no it’s shattered.”  It’s kinda like that feeling when I look at Princess M and know she is going to face plant and there is nothing I can do to stop it from happening….

Yep I just likened my feelings for my phone to my feelings for my child.

For about a year now I have been cursing my iPhone and wishing phones never got “smart.”  I never felt this way about my old flip phone….the only fear then was that the antenna would snap off.

Not now though. I live in fear of being without my phone.  There are a number of reasons I fear being without my phone:

  • what if the wait in the doctor’s office is long and I forget my phone?  I’ll have nothing to do because you know I won’t touch those germ laden magazines.
  • what if I forgot my phone at home and get lost on these Irish country roads…my phone is my GPS.
  • what if I don’t have my phone and I decide to spontaneously stop at the ocean and go for a walk how will I know what the crazy Irish weather will be like for the next half hour?
  • what if I’m out for coffee with the girls and the Princess starts to lose it right when we’re getting to the good chat…what will I give her as a last resort?  (go ahead judge all you want but don’t try to tell me you don’t do it too).

Sadly the list is endless, but most of all there are TWO reasons I live in fear of being without…most of all losing my phone…

  • Pictures. The hundreds of pictures that chronicle the joy of my life, I simply don’t back up enough.  OK this is getting better, with the cloud but I just got IOS 7 over the weekend because I had to take all my pictures off to make room.  Taking some of those photos off my phone felt like cutting off my arm.
  • Being out of contact with home. For even one minute.

It’s a double edge sword.  I love being in constant contact with home if needed. For the important stuff but also for the random moments (like when I just need to text my college roommate to tell him that I tripped at fell on my face in the middle of town and then walked off like no one saw).  I love treating my hometown news like is still my ‘local’ news.  And I love that I can email Mom a picture of the kids doing nothing but doing it right now.  You see without my phone I can’t pretend I am still ‘there’ when I’m actually here.

So yeah…I live in fear about being without my phone.  I’m sure you could say I am an iPhone addict….what’s the word for that?

But show me an expat that isn’t…..

Are you addicted to your phone??? Why???

Living Abroad, Missing Home

A 3rd Birthday!

September 15, 2013

Princess M turns 3 on Tuesday. Three.

Like any parent, the King and I feel awe and wonder.

Awe at the person she is becoming and wonder at the quick passing of time. Time started speeding up the second we first held her it seems.

We celebrated in Ireland today surrounded by family, much like years past. But this year we were lucky that my parents were in attendance.

It was loud.
It was chaotic.
I barely got a chance to talk to my parents.
Or my in-laws for that matter.

Grandma & Grandpa sang happy birthday along with the rest of us.

They watched her open presents.

We all sat patiently waiting for the King to open the Doc McStuffins toy Grandma & Grandpa got her before she would open anything else.

They laughed and chatted with my in-laws.

It was a special day.

And they did it from 3000 miles away over FaceTime being manned by my brother-in-law so I could do the typical mommy duties (i.e. pick up wrapping paper).

Later on, when everyone was gone, the IPad was put away, and I was busy tidying up the kitchen, I suppressed the sadness in the absence of my family so far away on yet another special day. I tried desperately to not think of what I…we…..were missing because I choose to live an expat life.

Then I heard Princes M talking to the Prince about her birthday party and naming everyone who came….I heard her name her Nan, and Grandad, cousins, aunts, uncles, and even Grandma & Grandpa!!!

My heart warmed in that moment. I realized to the Princess, Grandma & Grandpa were very much a part of her birthday….just as much as her Nan and Grandad were.

While it will never be the same, the Princess in her very nearly 3 year old wisdom sees only that she is loved very much by both sets of Grandparents.

And that is all I could ever ask for.

Steve Jobs you are undoubtedly an angel in heaven. Thank you Steve. Thank you Apple.

R5EGH6VADU2X

Living Abroad, Missing Home

4th of July

June 26, 2013

It’s the end of June and the 4th of July is right around the corner next week.

The King likely has to work and since I’m off for the summer the day has the potential to drag if it goes poorly.

Usually when I am working I don’t take the day off but rather force my colleagues to endure all things American for the day. They are always good to indulge me and the day usually flies without much feeling of homesickness. But this year I’m off on maternity leave and will have to find my own distractions.

The day will go one of two ways for me…

It could be a glorious sunny day allowing for BBQs and I’ll delight in successfully merging American traditions to my Irish life and I’ll happily toast my husband and Irish babies while FaceTiming home. Although I will miss old friends and fire works, I’ll crawl into bed at night feeling all is as it should be in my life.

or….

It will be rainy and cold and the Prince will be up all night setting my postpartum hormones into over drive and I will spend the day longing to give Prince and the Princesses all the hot summer, poolside memories with fireworks that I grew up with. I’ll avoid any communication with home which is likely to only bring tears & I’ll go to bed once again questioning if I’m making the right decisions to stay in Ireland.

Do all expats experience this heightened range of emotions around their homelands holidays?

Love Ireland, Missing Home

Paper or Plastic???

June 24, 2013

Have I mentioned how homesick grocery shopping in Ireland can make me?

Trust me there have been many tears shed while standing in the grocery store being unable to find that one ingredient for mom’s christmas cookies she makes every year.

I also must admit I cried at the site of Frank’s hot wing sauce when Dunnes began carrying it.

I also ran to Aldi when it opened last Thursday because they had Libby’s canned pumpkin…..

It will forever be one of those daily mundane tasks that can have me missing home on a moments notice…but I am adapting.

Due to a government levy on plastic bags, I have become accustomed to bringing my own bags rather than being offered that comforting option “paper or plastic” and answering “both.”

Sure on more than one occasion I have found myself stuffing groceries into pockets and handbags while balancing the remainder precariously in my arms simply because I had forgotten my bags and was certainly not going to be buying more at 70cent per bag when I have a press overflowing with them at home.

BUT, I have also relished the moments of triumph when I have remembered my bags.

And while I have experienced the annoyance of having to get the correct change simply to unlock a shopping trolley from the trolley bay, not once has my car been struck by a rogue shopping cart left sailing in the wind by some negligent shopper.

For at least the first year i lived here I broke out in a sweat trying to bag my own groceries in a speedy manner rather than suffer annoyed glances from other shoppers more adept at bag packing.

But I have learned the efficiency of loading the conveyor belt in such a manner that permits speedy bag packing such that all the fridge/freezer food is bagged together making unpacking at home also more efficient.

After 9 years it seems I have grown accustomed to my new way of life. The last time I was home visiting my favorite grocery store, I was shocked to find myself almost irritated while shopping. I mean really is there a need for paper AND plastic bags???

I was tempted to point out to the cashier (and therefore bag packer) that I was (believe it or not) a relatively fit person who could in fact carry bags containing more than 4 items in them.

And why the hell can’t people in NY put their shopping carts back where they belong?!?!

Does anyone else find there is something that can make them both long for home yet they have also grown to appreciate as a new way of life abroad??

Missing Home

Wegmans- paying homage to a hometown treasure

April 29, 2013
English: The front facade of the new Wegman's ...

English: The front facade of the new Wegman’s store located in Prince George’s County, Maryland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grocery shopping in Ireland continues to be somewhat of a challenge and therefore a frequent topic of discussion for me.  I realize now that growing up in American I was spoiled for choice…  I still get so frustrated sometimes that I can no longer peruse an entire aisle of salad dressings but I’ve also learned to make do and be happy with far fewer options to choose from in Ireland (and more importantly have allocated suitcase space for packets and bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing with each trip home).

But beyond being an American, I am a NEW YORKER….from upstate.

Which means I grew up with the privilege and the luxury of Wegmans.  To this day the thought or mere mention of Wegmans fills me with longing and an intense need to go home and well…go grocery shopping.

I was a card-carrying member of the Cookie Club in the 80’s.  I LOVED grocery shopping with mom because it meant a free Wegmans original chocolate chip cookie and a hole bunch on my Cookie Monster club card.  Does anyone else remember the cookie club?

I’m not gonna lie, my family talks of Danny Wegman like he’s an old family friend.

It was cool in high school to work at Wegmans.  They had the best college scholarship programmes. I could actually see the disappointment on my parents face when my first part-time job was NOT at Wegmans.

When I went to college in Pennsylvania I first learned that not all grocery stores were created equal. Those PA grocery stores had nothing on Wegmans.  Thankfully, a few years later Wegmans opened up an hour away and I took it upon myself to convert my college friends to the faith and we travelled regularly to Wegmans.

In grad school I remember waiting patiently for the grand opening of Wegmans in Sterling, VA and I fought the traffic with what seemed to be thousands of blow-in “yanks” that first opening week.

And finally I dragged my Irish husband to experience the wonder that is Wegmans.  And he got it.

Throughout my life I’ve gone home to Wegmans. In fact, no trip home is complete without several trips to Wegmans.   I keep trying to explain it to those who haven’t been, you just have to go to understand.

To be honest most of my out-of-the-blue, tears-in-the-eyes, lump in my throat moments of homesickness strike me while standing in a grocery store in Ireland. Only a New Yorker who is far from home where Wegmans has yet to expand could possibly understand this.

Wegmans is more that a grocery store for New Yorkers far from home.  It’s the comfort and familiarity of home and I miss it. More than could possibly be sane to anyone who doesn’t get it.