I woke up in Ireland yesterday. My husband and I traveled there, sin ninos, to soak up the greenery, the culture, and probably more than anything, the stout ales of The Emerald Isle.
It was also the first country we have visited in which English is the native language. One would think it would feel like home.
It didn’t. Although I was able to be understood (except for an awkward moment when I tried to buy some Paracetomal), things felt off.
There were no greetings upon entering and leaving a room. No “Buenas tardes” or “Hasta luego.” They ate so early there (seven PM), and the check arrived without prompting or lingering. There were no children in the bars, no ham legs hanging from the ceiling.
As I heard Spanish spoken, I turned as if to say, “Hey! I’m one of you!” Which is the rub. I’m not one of them.
I’ve taken on bits of the culture in my time here. I’ve attempted fluency, eaten cuttlefish eggs, and called people “guapa.” We walk the streets and call out our hellos. But I know every day is countable. And they know it, too.
It’s a beautiful dream.
When I wake up, and return to America, I will sometimes feel that thin veil between the dream life and the new. Part of me will grasp for a smell, a texture, or a sound which will feel so very much like home, yet so very far away.