World Friend Day!
We are in the home stretch now, so to speak. Only a few days left until we get on that plane back to Atlanta. Back to our old lives. Or do we? Meaning, you can never really go back to your old life. Many, many much wiser people have described this. “”No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” (Heraclitus). Thomas Wolfe wrote a whole novel about it after he went back to his NC hometown after living in NYC (“You Can’t Go Home Again”).
When we came over two years ago, I knew nothing about Ireland other that the very little I gleaned from a 3-day trip to Dingle in 1993. I had never been to Dublin, never seen the house we would live in, and I literally knew no one. I also had an 8 year old, a 6 year old, a 4 year old, and an 8 week old. My biggest fear was that the kids wouldn’t like it and would have a hard time making friends. Even though I have always relished travel and adventure AND we had always said that we would jump at an international move, I didn’t really want to come. I had just had a baby and I wanted to nest in my comfy home in Atlanta that I knew so well. I wanted to enjoy the rest of the spring and the summer that was just around the corner. The kids loved their school and I had great friends, my family close by, and an extensive network of trusted sitters. Ireland was the unknown. But I went anyway, because I knew what would happen in Atlanta if I stayed. It would be good. But it would be the same things that had happened for the previous 5 years. I didn’t know what was going to happen in Ireland. That was pretty exciting. Scary. But exciting. Kind of like getting on your first roller coaster. (Or for my friend Annie, on the swings at Tivoli!) You don’t know what to expect. You think you’ll probably love it, but part of you still wants to pee your pants with fear.
I didn’t have to worry about the kids. They loved it from day 1. They loved the new house and having their own rooms. They loved all the festivals that happen around Ireland in the summer and the ice cream trucks at every park. Even without meeting many other kids, because school had yet to start, they were happy as clams for the most part. I, on the other hand, felt adrift with no support network of friends and family. And this stunned me. I never have a problem meeting people or making friends. But I also didn’t know that once summer comes to Ireland, most people leave. All the American expats for sure hotfoot it outta here to get some time in the US or just some time in the sun. But lots of Irish also take extended vacations out of Ireland. Those who aren’t on holiday spend the weekends out of Dublin down in the country somewhere. Most groups stop their activities for the summer as a result. So I had a hard time finding my peeps the first couple of months. During that time I met the lady I referred to in an earlier post (See “Shut the Hell Up, Thank You Very Much”) who basically vocalized my worst fears about having no friends. But, a very wise and dear friend in Atlanta calmed me. She said, “You will meet people, wonderful drunk people who will become lifelong friends until they lose their teeth and die of cirrhosis. You will speak Gaelic and river dance. You will kiss the Blarney Stone.” I am happy to report that the best parts of her prophecy have come true. I did not kiss the Blarney Stone (mostly because John INSISTS that the Irish piss on it and laugh at tourists who kiss it.) and the only Gaelic I even speak is repeating the name of my house when giving directions. But I did meet people, wonderful people. And sometimes they are drunk! But mostly that seems to happen at my house, so I don’t judge. (Har har). I now consider some of them Life and World Friends. This means we are friends for life and that no matter where we are in the world, we will be friends. And the only time I wanted to pee my pants over the past two year, it wasn’t from fear, but from laughter. Thank you. Thank you.
Here’s what I will miss most about four of those World Friends (in order of when I met them)
Patrika: Gentle spirit, soothing, amazing masseuse, always planning the fun and making it happen. I will miss you true optimism, your sweet smile, and your ability to see the good in everyone, no matter what. You inspire me to be gentler and kinder with myself and with everyone else.
Michelle: Southern, strong, fierce, my fashion icon. I will miss your effortless fabulousness, your strength in the face of any obstacles, and your ability to embrace change with such grace. You inspire me to up my fashion game and remind me what a true steel magnolia is.
Mimi: Sarcastic, sassy, protective, empathetic. I will miss your amazing ability to listen and to understand, your easy, appreciative laughter, your sarcasm. And your ability to worry about everything! It reminds me to be more cautious at times. And you inspire me to always let others see my weaknesses and not just strengths. Because it is our common foibles that make us laugh and bond in this world.
Annie: Upbeat, balanced, smart, generous of spirit. I will miss our travels together, your sharp insight into the heart of things, the fact that you take nothing for granted and your appreciation of the finer things in life. You inspire me to always be seeking balance and to always be grateful for my blessings in life.
I could truly write pages about these four women and the others who have touched my life. But I will stop there. Love you guys!