Hey, Ireland, I’ll let you in on a little secret. As much crap as you talk about the immigrants within your borders, we talk about you too.
Even after nearly five years of living in Dublin, a town I’ve grown to love, and genuinely call “home”, I still find myself having days when things don’t go my way, reflex kicks in, and I blame it all on Ireland and the Irish.
“Ahh, Christ, it’s feckin’ Thursday. Typical Ireland. Letting Thursday follow Wednesday.”
Okay, I’m not quite that bad, but there are days when it’s close. If things aren’t going my way I may lapse into a round of “God damn Ireland, that’s so typical. How very Second World”, etc. And from what my wife tells me, I’m not the only immigrant to have these feelings.
As the daughter of immigrants in America she recalls her family and immigrant friends of the family waxing rhapsodically about the old country and how America just isn’t the same. And, now, as an adult she hates it when I, and others, do it here in Ireland. Though I catch her slipping into it sometimes too. It seems a condition common among many/most migrants to feel down about the choices they’ve made, and have regrets.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things screwed up in Ireland (and, of course, everywhere else, including America – so spare me the “America’s bad too” comparative hate mail). But when I, and everybody else, lash out at their new home in this way, it’s really not about you; it’s about me (us). It’s about me having a bad day. It’s about me having a hard time adjusting to the system. It’s about me thinking I’ve finally got the kinks worked out, and am fitting in, and then having the world jump up and trip me over something stupid (something I would have seen if I hadn’t let myself get overconfident).
And I think the reason so many immigrants run afoul of this trap is because we all go through those stages of thinking we’re fitting in and finally “home”. We imagine that we’re approaching that state of grace (belonging) we’d hope to find (the absence of which is often the very thing that made us want to leave home in the first place), only to be reminded that it’s not perfect here either. So we go back to doubting our choices.
And regret is not a state of grace, and it’s most definitely not why we came.
Dublin, May 2016
Things to look forward to in upcoming posts:
Hobbies, activities, and finding your niche as an immigrant.