At the time I am writing this post, it is pouring down rain outside of my flat at the University of Limerick. Most of the time, when it rains, it sprinkles, but tonight it is a deluge.
I chose to write my post tonight because this weather reminds me of my home. When my Irish peers ask where I’m from in the States, most have no reference point when I mention my home state of Oklahoma. I tell them it’s the state just above Texas–the frying pan–and they nod their heads with some semblance of recognition. Then they ask questions and I answer them honestly. Oklahoma is a diverse state with a diverse history. We are home to several historically black towns, many of which were former fugitive slave communities, thirty-nine distinct tribal nations, both the Rocky and the Appalachian Mountains, and some of the greatest ecological diversity in the entire North American continent. I love it there.
In New York City, however, where I received my bachelor’s degree, I had a much different experience.
“Ah yes,” I could tell the New Yorkers expected me to say whenever they would ask what it was like being from Oklahoma, “Oklahoma is a wasteland full of ignorant hicks and savages. We have no history! I’m so glad I now live in the security of the politically flawless borough of Manhattan.”
My undergraduate experience was very lonely. I missed seeing the moon at night. I missed being able to jump into my car and drive through cow fields and see nothing but endless plains. Then COVID-19 happened and that loneliness got even worse. But unlike my peers, despite the isolation, I had some semblance of hope. I knew, come the end of the summer of 2021, I would be leaving for Ireland.
Now, I’m here. And at this moment, it feels like Oklahoma is here with me.
Recently, at my immigration meeting in Limerick city, the woman handling my case asked me whether or not I felt at home in Limerick.
“Yes,” I answered quickly. “The landscape here is very similar–lots of hills, but lots of flats too. And the rain doesn’t bother me either. In fact, I’m used to more unpredictable weather.”
The idea that another place’s weather could be more unpredictable than Irish weather seemed to surprise her. “How so?”
“Well, for one, we have thunderstorms. We also have tornadoes. They’re awfully fun to watch.”
Her eyes widened. “You watch tornadoes?”
“Well sure,” I said. “So long as they’re not coming at me!”
We chatted a bit longer as she finished scanning my documents. She was clearly interested in what I had to say and ended our conversation with, “Oklahoma sounds like an interesting place.”
I’m rambling. But needless to say, I really like it here. Ireland has been a place of great healing for me. And I cannot wait to see even more of it as this year continues on.