Whenever I introduce myself in these past months and say where I am from, people always get excited…No NOT about Guinee of course, because most people do not even know which continent my birthplace is, especially when I don’t lead with “Guinee, in West Africa.” But most people always get excited about New York City (even though I know they are only thinking Manhattan, maybe Brooklyn or Queens)—a fascination I never understood until now because I now know what it feels to identify oneself with a city.
Growing up in a restrictive immigrant home, my New York City days were spent between home, school, internships, and home again. There are not many things I can point to about the City and say, “remember this at this place” “oh I miss this”—No reminiscing over my favorite walk paths, restaurants, museums, concert halls. But I can now say these things about Dublin and can almost say “Yes, I am a Dubliner”. Of course, it will be foolish of me to NOT recognize the privilege in such statement because I have had a sheltered experience of living in an extremely expensive City, which many native Dubliners are not able to afford.
I am defining my experiences here, as I have throughout this year, based on my OWN definition of the “Irish-American” relations. As a Guinean-American, the below are just a few of the many things that define my relationship with Dublin:
• It means sitting at my study desk in GMB and facing the old a giant tree between me and the Old Library. Watching the tree go through various transformations as I have over the last several months.
• It means coming back to Trinity after midnight, knocking on the heavy wooden door via College Green entrance–stepping into the quietness of the campus, with no tourists and smiling upon the famous Campanile and thinking “wow, I live here.”
• It means thrifting from Oxfam to Enable-Ireland to Vincent– filling my tiny closet and adding to my anxiety of “how will I fit all these in two suitcases.”
• It means rushing to my favorite ice cream place with a great company to enjoy Murphy’s Ice Cream finest Dingle sea salt.
• It means finding a happy place at Nando’s—A space I can always expect deliciously seasoned chicken with music that will always take me back Home.
• It means a 30-minute walk every Thursday from campus, crossing the Liffey to the north side of the city, witnessing the huge economic inequality between the North and South, to reach my internship.
• It means catching a ride every week with Mick and Patricia (two consultants) to travel to County Meath in the past several months to connect with five incredibly determined women who are looking at life beyond the walls of the restrictive accommodation centers of the asylum process.
• It means taking every person who visits me in Dublin to Howth Cliff walk. Just a 40 mins journey on the dart train North-East of Dublin, and Kilmainham Goal because they are musts!
• It means, over the past few weeks, breaking Iftar with Cameron and Alexander–filling up the empty space that would have been occupied by family or friends observing Ramadan.
• Most importantly, it means defining my relationship with the city and country for myself and not based on anyone’s agenda.
It means…I will come back.