The Cookie Crumbles

The Cookie Crumbles

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Every time I return home, something is different. I came back from a year’s travel in 2006 to twenty kilometers of arterial motorway that greatly shortened the distance from my family home to Dublin. I like roads. In 2010, I came back from a summer teaching in the slums of Mombasa to Ireland’s coldest winter since records began. Pales in comparison to Chicago, though. Last Christmas I came home and met one of my best friend’s son, Caleb. This time, the hallway has been redecorated, there’s a new five-euro note, and I’ve met yet another friend’s baby, whom I only made cry three times. But there has been an even greater change, one that has left me with more of an off-kilter feeling than ever before.Ireland is among many countries that have been through the financial mill in recent years, the effects of which will linger for years to come. For hundreds of years emigration has been a facet of being Irish; most notably in the mid-1800s as a result of the Great Irish Famine, when one million Irish came to America. Recent figures are not as grand, but still some 80,000 Irish left the country in 2013 in search of something better, whom The Irish Times have labelled as ‘Generation Emigration’. Between those whom have left, and the financially savvier Irish that remain, Ireland now seems a different place. Dublin was like a ghost town, of sorts. It was difficult to stomach — reading about it in the papers is not the same — but it has also proven the most visceral reminder that time changes everything.

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Things may have fallen out of place, but in time Ireland will recover. It will be a different Ireland though. We take different paths, and people move on. I’ve chosen a path that takes me away from home. In doing so, I’ve sort of wiped the slate clean I guess. But if anything, that decision has forced me to become better acquainted with who I am now, and who I can become.

Grad school is intellectually challenging, and so it should be. I just didn’t expect it to be so emotionally challenging. I didn’t stop to look up much this last year and a half. Family and friends remain the same at heart, wherever they might be. Thankfully, I got to catch up with many of them this time, and no matter what direction they are moving in, they are still there somewhere.

I now leave Ireland feeling recharged and ever more grateful, both for what I’ve got, and to be doing what I’m doing. I haven’t felt the need to make any resolutions because with our impending move to LA in March, this year is sure to bring great change regardless. I do make myself one promise though; to not be solely focused on the milestones and take some time out to appreciate the moments in between, before the cookie crumbles.

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