December 19, 2008
By Kathleen Burns Burns, Barrington, IL

The fog was so thick the day we left that I could hardly see the people walking in front of me. In fact, I’m surprised we even flew out at that time. Apparently luck was on our side that day, as my mother, my sister, and I flew to visit our relatives in Ireland, this being my first time. I expected green, just green, from what I’d heard from my mother’s visits to the country she was born in. She would tell stories that would color my mind green with green shamrocks, green trees, and green grass everywhere, my mind full of green thoughts until I thought I was turning green myself. The funny thing is that when I arrived in Ireland, the green was almost erased away by the same fog that covered the atmosphere in St. Louis. At about that time, I took back what I said about luck being on our side.

“It’ll clear up,” I thought. “Then I will be able to see the true green of this country, the green my mother has been talking about for years.”

You see, I am very spirited about my heritage. My favorite holiday has been St. Patrick’s Day since I first saw the color green and the shamrocks on my mom’s sweaters. We fly an Irish flag 364 days of the year, substituting the American flag for the 4th of July. My red hair stands out in the crowd, people constantly asking if it’s my true color, and me, responding back with a “yes,” proudly adding in “I’m 100% Irish.” Freckles speckle my face; no, they swamp my face, and instead of getting tan in the summer, I sprout a new set of fresh freckles every time I go out in the sun. Anyways, I think that you get the point about the love for my heritage. Maybe it’s more of an obsession.

The fog, though, I have to say, was just the start to a whole lot of disappointments. It turns out that many of my family members don’t speak to each other. There was a huge fight over a potato crisis with my family’s potato business, and one side of the family hates the other side. Unfortunately, I’m on the side that is purely detested, even though I have not met most of these people my entire life. Minus my grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, and about three cousins, the pictures on my family tree have been question marks my whole entire life. This was only one problem.

It also turns out that us, the side of the family who is hated and being blamed for some crazy potato business scheme, is now resorting to some sort of mule business. This was another huge disappointment, for this new “business” my relatives were starting with these mules (they were everywhere in Ireland) required many workers, and since they seemed to be low on those, my mother, my sister, and I had to give up some of our precious time to help with these mules. This was not my vision of a wonderful two weeks spent in the country I had been dreaming about going to since I was four years old, but it could’ve been worse.

It did get worse, actually. I, personally, had never experienced a monsoon before in my life prior to this trip, but now I believe I can say I have. Ten straight days of complete downpour forecasted throughout the little village we were staying in, of course faltering my view of the green, which was turning brown with the tremendous amount of mud. A little cold front blew through the village, and with my luck, I was struck with the worst cold I have ever experienced in my whole sixteen years of living on this planet.

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