Christmas Eve Retrospection

I’m in Ireland, spending Christmas with Maeve and her family. How eager I was yesterday to recount the very Irish moments that I wanted to share and remember – and how very tired I was when the time came to do it. At one point, sitting next to Maeve on the couch, I opened a blank Word document and began to write some observations of the Belfast Irish, but I grew annoyed and tired with the few words I had written and closed out of Word altogether.

There were certain things that I wanted to remember, and were therefore necessary to write down, but you know that when the time comes it feels like an obligation and I never was good at that kind of writing – really I just sit here and pour out whatever travels from head to hands. But I did get to have tea with “Granny” yesterday, who is a large Irish woman with short gray hair and masculine hands. Her home is immaculate, for, according to her son, she has a disease (OCD). Maeve’s house, meanwhile, is a very Irish compact little thing (the right side of a duplex) with a narrow staircase and one bathroom, upstairs, next to the three bedrooms (all four doors side by side). Ma has spent most of her time cooking, Da helping where needed and being all around helpful and engaged. Seems a very happy household, except for the fact that Maeve hasn’t talked to her older sister Frances in years, which makes some situations rather strange.

I started to get a bit homesick today, but not so much homesick as just scared of moving again. It’s not that I want to go home for good – it’s just that, being here in Ireland, I feel like I can blend in. The culture is only so different as to be amusing, and I understand the language and all. A bonus is that people think my accent is amusing. After being in Prague for three months and then coming to Ireland, I’m having the same reaction as I did after I went to England once I had been  in Spain for two months… except this time I’m not going home right after – I’m going to Turkey.

Which is exciting, and something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but it’s just scary now – all of the transitions and such… it’s just a lot to handle. Thanksgiving was hard for a few hours (mostly because I knew what deliciousness I was missing) and Christmas isn’t hard because I’m still with a family, and it’s certainly not stressful because it’s not my own. I am so grateful I missed Black Friday and the insane advertisements for Christmas presents and the shopping and chaos and stress that the past month has surely brought to most Americans that haven’t yet completely lost their minds and decided all of the stress wasn’t worth it. Needless to say, I do not miss that. I’m just tired, and I think the next month will be difficult… I’m hoping though that it’s just the transition that will be hard, the assimilation, but I’m not sure how culture shock works when you go from the Czech Republic to Ireland to Turkey over a period of 9 months – I’m just not sure what to expect. I fear now that I won’t be ready to go to Chile next fall – once I get back to America for the summer, I might just want to stay. Then again, two months in America might be plenty. But I could see myself wanting to just be a citizen of the land I’m in – not so much an American, just someone who feels natural where she is.

I’m not sure if I’ll write again before the year is over, so I feel I should do a bit of tying up, though I suppose I could do it after the new year (but then again things will be hectic). I remember my first post of the year was about whatever you were doing on the first day being the foundation for what you would do for the rest of the year. I don’t necessarily agree with that – as if January 1 has some kind of special power for you (do New Year’s resolutions ever work?). Somehow we believe that the date is special – and I see why; it’s the first of the year, a new start and all that jazz, and if you want to see it as such, fine, we all need fresh starts – but the thing that gets me about the January 1 “fresh start” is that if you truly believe that the day holds significance as far as making changes, then you only get one day a year to evaluate and change, and that’s unfair.

However, there’s this: “In a few seconds, I was doing exactly what I had envisioned, and it was going exactly as I had envisioned it. I had sort of a revelation then, something that I knew I wanted to put in the first entry of my new journal. It was this: if you can envision yourself doing something, it makes it a lot easier to actually take that step… I have been debating whether or not to go to Prague. Prague is a safe city with a low cost of living. It’s beautiful and exotic and all of the things that you want a foreign place to be, but there is just something about it that I cannot commit to. I have researched this program thoroughly, written curious emails to the advisors of the program, spoken with strangers and friends and family members about my plans, my doubts, my expectations, but there is something there, despite this being the perfect time to go, that keeps my heart locked away from the idea. As if it is protecting itself without my consent.” Looking back, that thing was fear.

And of course, it was what I did just two months later, and what I did again in October, and yet again, at the end of this year, I am moving to a new country to do this whole English teaching thing. But – the idea first occurred to me years before, probably in its most infantile form as I was a sophomore in college and became interested in Amnesty International and the Peace Corps (the zenith of my young adult save-the-world days), and even as a nugget of an idea when I was in high school and had dreams of moving to New York. (I didn’t really want to travel internationally until I learned Spanish and became enamored with [what I thought] Spanish culture was).

As I realize I have been in Maeve’s room alone for too long, I must conclude this abruptly, further proving my own diagnosis that I cannot write conclusions.

So January 1 – significant or not?