Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to the Beginning

Oftentimes the end of a journey will closely resemble the beginning. There’s the same medley of feelings, excitement at the thought of embarking, anticipation of a new adventure, trepidation at adjusting to a different environment, and a little pang of loss at leaving what has been your home for so long. When I think about going home, spending the summer in Ithaca, images of weekends spent at the farmer’s market and nights attending free concerts on the Art’s Quad fill my mind. However, it’s hard to reconcile the idea that after a busy day working I won’t be able to walk to school and swing by the College Bar for a pint of Guinness. I know it will feel unnatural not to have a Trad Session going on when I walk into a pub and I’ll dearly miss the Irish slang of “savage,” “class,” and “grand”. I sat with my roommate Meg on the side of the Claddagh, eating rasberries from the weekend market, and it suddenly hit me, that I wouldn't be doing this again for a long long time.

I’m ready to go home and spend time with my parents. The thought of catching up with friends at school and sitting at the State Street Diner for a tuna melt that tastes more like mayonnaise than tuna and does not include corn it’s a dizzyingly thrilling prospect. However, after a month or two I know the wanderlust will return and I’ll be ready to hop back on a plane to Galway. It will be lovely to be home, but I’m starting to wish that being in Ireland and returning to Ithaca weren’t mutually exclusive endeavors.

During college the concept of home for many students gets turned upside down. For those of us who define home as the place where our loved ones reside, it can become tricky as to where we want to leave our hearts. Loyalties and friendships shift from high school to college, as new bonds are forged over late night binges of Wings Over Ithaca and Insomnia Cookies. However, sometimes, instead of establishing a new place to call hearth and home, you’re left feeling unsettled and stretched, straddling two different locations and sets of families. Going abroad adds yet another branch to the metaphorical family tree. It's as normal to me now to walk down the street and see a pasture as it is to come into close contact with a castle. I walk around my countryside hometown and keep on wondering why the sheep aren't spraypainted in cotton candy colors (something the Irish do to keep track of their flock).

The strangest thing about coming home has been how little effort it’s taken to adjust. After spending the last five months in a continual state of trying to assimilate, it’s an unfamiliar feeling to slip easily into a comfortable environment. It’s both reassuring and disappointing to find my world so unchanged. I feel like I’ve been soaked, put through a blender, and spit back out to make all-natural paper Christmas cards. It’s strange that the internal difference isn’t reflected in the world around me, or in more colloquial terms; it seems wrong that everything looks the same when I feel so different. Still there’s a symmetry to my surroundings here that exudes comfort, something about the winding country roads, each bend of which tells a childhood story, that makes me feel at peace. Thus the story has come to its end, a circular journey in which the heroine returns back to the location of her origin, only instead of the keys to the kingdom, or an ancient royal heirloom, I’m armed with hundreds of digital photos, a couple of filched Guinness glasses, and a view of the world that's a little more stretched than what I started with.

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