I’ve been back in America for nearly a week and everything here in Anderson is the same. I’m watching Cosby Show reruns and a copy of Paul Wellstone’s The Conscience of a Liberal rests on the table beside me. Friday was my grandmother’s 85th birthday and my sister’s high school graduation. On Saturday, I went down to Columbia for a state Young Democrats organizational meeting. Sunday brought the Men’s Choir program at church, complete with all of the old standards. With the exception of my ongoing job search and thesis research, I am firmly residing in normalcy. It’s strange; I almost feel like I never went to Ireland.
I thought I would miss it. During my last week in Dublin, after realizing the cost of a flight back to Ireland for the ring ceremony was prohibitive, I attempted to soak up absolutely everything that I loved about the place. Despite invites out from my Irish friends, I usually tried to do this alone so the scones, tea, and intermittent rain would have my full attention. Saying goodbye was a slow and complete process because I do not know when I will be there again. I think I will miss it in a few weeks.
I also suspect that I will eventually see more of Ireland’s imprint on my consciousness: A week does not provide enough distance for honest reflection, and the personal, professional and academic demands since my return have been too great to hurry along the process. But the time to write this journal entry is now. In fact, the deadline has passed. So I won’t venture any further into pseudo-philosophy and false attempts at profoundness – I just have to admit that I’m not ready to deconstruct everything quite yet.
Instead, I will take this final opportunity to thank all of you for your dedication to the Mitchell Scholarship program and I hope the Mitchell will become even more of a community over the years. Before going to Ireland, I had never been to Europe at all. Now, I’ve had the opportunity to see how the cosmopolitan traveling type of Americans live. (I had also never had beans on toast, but my poverty in Ireland brought me to the perfect sustenance for my continuing poverty in law school.)
Hmm… I still don’t know what to make of it. I have not yet untangled my relationship with the Republic. In the end, I know that I will return and I will bring my future family there to show them where I lived. I know that I will take them to Kilmainham Gaol so they can learn about the multifaceted nature of imperialist history around the globe. I will stroll with them down Moore Street, one of the few multiethnic business strips in Dublin (hopefully there will be more than one such street by the time I have kids.) I will bake soda bread for them and instill them with the belief that love, care and solidarity are absolutely essential values in our politics. And with this knowledge I am confident that my Irish experience will be with me, in some form, always.