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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

American Pie

I went out for a walk early this morning before the younger kids went to school. It's a nice little perk of LoverBoy working from home. There are downsides to this, the most inconvenient being the seemingly irresistible pull of work outside office hours, but getting out in all weathers before the day properly starts is a big plus. It's a typical Irish Autumn day- blustery, overcast, with a bit of soft rain thrown in. It's the sort of morning, where I long for the crisp, colourful Fall days in America. Even though we're home almost ten years and only lived there for five, a little bit of my heart will always stay in Northern Virginia.....although I pretty much love the whole country! For example, at the very top of my bucket list is driving Route 66 in a convertible (wearing a headscarf a la Grace Kelly but realistically more Hilda Ogden!) .
There's always been a bit of the gypsy in me and although it's now fashionable to take a gap year and trek round the globe, in our student days, we boarded the great green and white birds in Dublin, landing en masse in JFK. Then, clutching our precious J1 visas, we swarmed down the Jersey shores, working and partying there till Labor Day. A quote from a Pogues song springs to mind whan I remember arriving in New York that very first time 'We stepped hand in hand on Broadway like the first man on the moon.'. It was a rite of passage and many of us went back for a second summer. It was before the internet and Skype and mobile phones ( Gordon Gekko had one but that was it!) and I recall feeding rolls of quarters into a pay phone at the side of a sweltering boardwalk every week in exchange for a few moments of my mum's voice.
A few years later we graduated, got married and at my instigation, upped sticks and moved to Virginia, just outside Washington DC. Originally for a year we stayed for five. Our first two children were born there- it was a happy carefree time and we have many wonderful memories. But once again, it was me who shepherded our little family back across the Atlantic , wanting our children to feel Irish soil beneath their feet, and the arms of family around them and to eat soda bread and good bacon and proper chocolate. So our eldest child, who was then three, stopped saying "diapers" and "mommy" and "trash" within a few weeks and we settled back into life here. And it's ironic to think that at twenty, all the things that fed the wanderlust in me- the proximity of family, the sometimes stifling familiarity of life and people here, and the shared chequered history of being raised in a troubled city, were at thirty, the very magnets that drew us back home. But once in a while, and especially on a windy dull Autumn day like today, I wistfully remember the crisp Fall days in Virginia and I wonder what life would be like if we'd stayed...

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