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Home of the Shamrock

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If someone asked me now where my home is, I`d probably give them my address. But if someone was looking for a more meaningful answer, I`d answer with a dumb “I don`t know”. After a few uneasy glances in my direction, they`d ask why. Why don`t I know. It seems like such a straight forward question. But that`s the thing. It seems so. It makes you wonder. What is a home?

Imagine a perfect life as an eight year old. You have friends, school, and family at the reach of your hand. You`ve already adjusted. And then it happens. You`re thrown into a parallel universe. Suddenly you find yourself stranded on an island. Ireland. Everyone speaks English, you don`t know more than the phrase “my name is…” The weather is different, the buildings are different, the people are different and, most of all, the language is different. You feel lost, abandoned, and alone. You have no family for miles around. You`re literally alone. Sounds awful? That`s me six years ago.

Adjusting to the climate was a big struggle. The lack of sun makes even the most optimistic person yearn for some light; the cold temperatures make a person shudder at the sight of deep, cold, angry waves surrounding the island, the wind makes a person forget about a world with no howling in your ear. But it`s possible, I speak from experience. Now I resemble a vampire, who hisses and hides at the sight of the sun.

I gained more than I could have hoped for from living in Dublin. First of all, the language. I speak fluent English, I have the basics when it comes to Irish, I have met some very interesting people and, most of all, I`ve broadened my horizons. I realized that it`s possible to live without a home. Sure, you feel this terrible emptiness sometimes, but as long as you have someone sane to talk to you`re fine. There`s more than one meaning to the word homeless. Some people have a home but not a house. These people you can find sleeping on the pavements, pleading for a dollar or two. But I think that the majority is formed by the people with a wonderful house, a profitable job and a loving family, but no home. I`m a part of the second group. And to which group do you belong?
What is funnier than anything else is the stereotype that all Irish people have red hair, freckled noses, drink 10 pints of Guinness every evening and have a leprecon and a box of gold stashed under their beds. You think Ireland and what comes to mind? A drunken Irishman. The stereotypes really annoy the natives. Just a little tip, they love to laugh about the drinking bit because, well, it`s partially true. But they don`t like being thought of as freckly leprecons. Don`t even go there.
While I went to school there, I met many interesting people. Apart from the Irish kids, there`s a lot of people from countries like Lithuania, Nepal, Pakistan, The Philippines, India and Poland. What is quite interesting is the fact that most people there are poor, or poorer than people in the East, for example. Irish families are quite big, sometimes counting up to six or seven children. The mothers walk around in their pajamas or sweats, the kids put a lot of makeup on. It`s quite natural for a twelve year old girl to wear makeup adequate for a forty year old prostitute. At least that`s the image that I have heard people describe. There are plenty of pregnant teenagers and numerous murders, but I guess that it comes with the territory. Different place, different culture.

Even though this does seem horrific, it doesn`t really differ from most places in the world. Ireland is quaint and charming and the architecture is much more experimental and artistic than in many parts of Europe. It has a lot to offer, you just have to open up your arms and accept all that`s coming, because there`s a lot of it.

Summing up, I`m homeless. So if someone did ask me now where my home was, I`d smile and answer with the words “It`s somewhere between heaven and earth. If you find it let me know.” I never thought it was possible because there`s a saying “There`s no place like home”. But it turns out it is possible. Every time I remember the going away party that my friends threw for me, or the happy screams coming from the playgrounds during summer, I get a sharp pang of homesickness. Except it`s not my home anymore. I have to let go of the memories, the happy moments in my childhood, my friends and school crushes, my good grades and helping teachers. I have to let go of the smell of bacon and eggs as I pass a family restaurant at 1 pm, the lunch hour. I have to move on, as hard as it is, because without a proper closure I will never find peace.

And that`s what hurts the most. The lack of closure.

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