The Meeting (FIVE)

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N went into the bathroom to answer the phone call. I heard his muffled voice through the door, but it ended pretty quickly. It reminded me that I wasn’t just making decisions that changed my life, I was choosing to change others lives as well.

I hadn’t been really, heart stopping, sing in the shower happy in a long time.  I liked holding hands and feeling electricity again. N brought me to a local vineyard one afternoon, where we sat outside drinking our wine flight, toured the cellar and fought off insects. It was so fun because there was zero expectation. He wore a white, collared France rugby top. He was funny, and calm, sitting with his legs crossed and looking so relaxed. I wanted to take him away from what he was used to, from the person he was used to seeing every day, and keep him all to myself.

A little timeline check: N (and a month or so later, M) moved to Portland in January, when Intel asked him to train on a new system. He proposed to M while hiking in April (with TIFFANY- don’t ask me about it, I’ll get really angry and then weep for hours), and we met May 13. At this point in our relationship, it was May 21, eight days after we had met.

I’m a bitch. A perfectly rational, intelligent Irish woman gets engaged to her responsible, intelligent boyfriend of two years in Oregon, USA, and when she leaves, a perfectly normal, already engaged American woman decides that life just needs to be different and tries to take the man from her. It is in really poor taste, and I’m still embarrassed about it. M didn’t deserve anything like this. And yet, I didn’t stop it.

N was only in town for a few more days at this point. His brother and a few friends were flying over to Portland see him, and they had decided to all drive from Portland, through California and then to Vegas. Irish people go hard when they vacay. From there they were all flying back to Ireland together. The day we met I knew our time together had an end date. He was scheduled to leave his apartment on the 23rd, and boxes had already been packed and ready for weeks. The shipping company was coming any day now. Obviously I was still working, and sharing an apartment with R. Judge away. Time was running out for us.

It’s hard to try and lead a double life. I wanted to spend every second with N, but I was too scared to start the conversation with R. And I didn’t want to know what he was going to do to me. I’m not saying that he was a bad person, he was just unpredictable. And he wasn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he was tough.  Or scared. Ever. That kind of unpredictability is intimidating. So I just left everything as it was and waited for him to figure it out. I know, total bitch.

I told N that I really hoped we could keep talking when he returned to Ireland, and he surprised me.

“I thought that’s what we were doing? I thought we were planning on meeting again soon and seeing this through? Trying it out?” And I smiled and just couldn’t believe that this was happening. I really, truly loved him. In all honesty, I loved him the second I met him. The instant that our eyes met, I was done. In a normal situation, I would have ended things with my fiancé, requested that N end things with his fiancé, and then met up and allowed our relationship to develop. But again, there was always that ticking clock in the background, reminding me that he was leaving soon.

And of course the day came for him to go, and he went.

I called him, like he told me to do whenever I felt like I was losing my mind and doubting everything that happened. He didn’t pick up. So I called again later, and he didn’t pick up. And then I realized what was happening. He didn’t want this to continue. He just wanted to move on, enjoy the rest of his time in the US with his brother and friends, and then fly back home and act like it never happened. I was devastated.

The following day, he returned my call.

“Hi!”

Blah. He sounded so happy.

“Hi. Hey, I just need to end this here and now. I can’t do this. I’m not like this. I don’t really think this can last, and I know you feel the same way. We need to just end it here.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“You know that it wasn’t going to work. You live in Ireland and I live here. You’re engaged. I have a lot of things to sort out here. It’s just bad timing. There’s just no way it could have ever worked. We’ve been wasting each others time.”

“Do you mean this? Really?”

“Yes.” No.

“I just booked a plane ticket back to Portland. I miss you. I can’t take it. I just want to see you.”

Whoops.

I was sincerely shocked and completely, for a lack of a better word, gobsmacked.

“But, but you didn’t answer my phone calls for two days. And your brother and friends are with you, and you’re in LasVegas…are you staying longer?”

“I’m at the airport, my brother just dropped me off. I just booked a flight back and called to let you know.”

I told you, I’m the biggest bitch ever.

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The Pro’s and Con’s

Sometimes, when I’m home with the kids and giving a bottle to the baby, I start thinking about moving back to Ireland. I mean, it would be MUCH easier now that I know what to expect. Everything moves at a slower pace (except the freaking train schedules), and there’s more time to focus on just family things, not so much work. And we’ve got so many friends and family there who have kids and really enjoy the same things we do (and more babysitters!).

Some drawbacks: I would have to remind myself that there’s no emergency room close by. The emergency care center in Newbridge was closed down a few years ago, so if there is an emergency, families have to travel to Naas, which is a good 40 minutes away on a good weather day. And I don’t know how the schools are. I’m pretty sure my kids would get picked on for being too nice- the boys are pretty tough over there, even at a young age. Uniforms are still used, all public schools are Catholic, and I believe Kildare has a school that is both boys and girls now. My husband, N, went to an all boys school. He is a wonderful person, but I believe that kids need to grow up around both sexes, not just one. It doesn’t seem normal or natural to me to have them separated. And, let’s be honest, fifth and sixth grade for girls are TOUGH. If there weren’t boys in class to make a distraction, I’m not sure what would have happened. I would prefer the kids stay in an environment that promotes both real world experiences and learning.

I would also have to consider the fact that I don’t have an Irish drivers license. I FINALLY passed my permit test (keep in mind, I had my US drivers license for eleven years at the time I took it, but I had NO idea how to answer a few questions about tractors and what to do on a ONE LANE BRIDGE), but I’m pretty sure it’s expired now that we’re not living in Kildare anymore. And me being the control freak that I am, I hate relying on N to take me everywhere. I’m just not that kind of person who can wholeheartedly depend on someone else, not with the kids needing things all the time. Not being able to drive would be tough. Not as tough as the doctor situation, but if you can’t get there, that’s a real problem.

Some amazing advantages: Walking up to town with everyone would be lovely. Grabbing lunch at Kinnitty Castle  (http://www.majestic-castles-in-ireland.com/kinnitty-castle-in-offaly.html) on a day we felt like just getting out of the house would be amazing.

And having family at Lullymore Heritage Park (http://www.lullymoreheritagepark.com/) is priceless. Having the woods and Irish bogs to run through and play in would make up for the yard that we would have to sacrifice (not like we have a huge yard now, but still). There are wild birds and sights to see, and their cousin would be close. It would be so nice for the kids to grow up around their Irish family.

Travel through Europe would also be to everyone’s advantage. We flew to London for 45 euro. I’m sure there are other fees involved, but it can be done CHEAP (hello, RyanAir). And the experiences they would get from being well travelled are things I can’t teach them, and they’ll never learn from someone else.

I can smell the green countryside and the fresh air. And I now appreciate how long it takes to drive to a movie theater and get to Dublin. Working in the city is a real experience that I have and will always love looking back on, but I don’t think I could do it now with four kids.

I’ll have to keep thinking about it. No rush now, we’re up to our eyeballs in home renovations. It’s nice to think about what could be though.

The Beginning

 

My husband is from a small town in Ireland. He and his family can trace their roots back pretty far. And each time N, my husband, tells me about an ancestor, he always throws in some kind of exaggeration. For example, my husband told me a shillelagh (pronounced sha LAY lee) was a walking stick used to beat people, back in the days of the old IRA when no weapons were allowed. I mentioned this to a friend at work (when I worked in Dublin) and he flat out said, “He’s takin’ the piss out of yeh.” To which I replied, “I’m going to kill him.”

However, I have since learned that this is, in fact, true. I have yet to reach out to my friend and tell him he was wrong, but it doesn’t really matter. The point of this story is that I am always paranoid that N is lying to me, to enhance the story and whatnot- he’s a great story teller. That’s part of the reason I fell in love with him, because he had so many amazing stories of his own. He has been places- real places, like Africa and Thailand. When we met, I had been to about 15 of the states and Cancun, Mexico, on spring break (if you haven’t been, it’s like Florida with men with machine guns asking you questions at the airport). So everything he was saying was so exciting! Safaris, scuba diving, Australian beaches- seriously, I couldn’t even dream up what he was saying. Anyway, we met at a bar one rainy night in May and were engaged two months later. It was the literal “Love At First Sight.” One year later (to the day) we were married in a church in my home town. The first time I met my in-laws was at the airport the day they flew in for our wedding (I will die if my children try and pull this on me). They were understandably trying to talk N and my parents out of the wedding, but my hard-working, tough as nails Pittsburgh parents weren’t about to lose out on $20k- wedding was happening (and, my mom loves N way more than me and she was certainly not about to let the best thing that ever happened to bragging rights slip through her fingers). But we were in love and the wedding was beautiful. Nine months later we had our first son, April 21st we said goodbye to Portland (ugh, I cried the whole flight) and May 1st we landed in Dublin airport.

The first thing that I noticed was that there were no skyscrapers. It looks like there’s 50 shades of green- I’m sure there are. And the airport isn’t the most up-to-date place, but it’s comfortable and worn in. The first drive from the airport to Kildare scared the shit out of me.

The car is the size of a small four-seater, we’re driving on the wrong side of the road, it’s one lane in some areas, I’ve got my two month old son in the back, and there are sheep scattered everywhere- for added driving fun.

N was so sweet and had an apartment all set up for us when we got there. It was beautiful and new (weird things happened to me when I was alone there), and I was excited to settle down there. But it soon got overwhelming, not knowing where to go to pick up groceries and not recognizing any brands. This was really difficult with a two month old, because then I started relying on my mom to send his formula over to me every month, which didn’t work out in the end. I had to ask my mother-in-law everything because I didn’t have any friends over there. I’m 5’7 with curly dark hair and in Ireland, I would say most girls are 5’3 with poker straight hair, just a gift from God to them for having to live in consistently wet weather conditions. My hair is naturally curly and frizzy. It looks best on cool fall days with zero humidity. In Ireland, there is no good hair day for me. This is just another quark that added to my already out of the ordinary appearance there. Add an American accent and I’m a walking oddity.

Where am I going with this? I guess it’s just to show you a little of what was going on in my head while trying to figure out how to be a new wife and a new mom in this new place. It was stressful. And then I decided to get a job, which made it better or worse, I have no idea. Anyway, I want to put my experiences down somewhere where my children can read about them, and where new moms, who are travelling to Ireland or somewhere else abroad, can learn about what to expect and get some tips about life with children outside of the U.S.