The Meeting (part 2)

You may be wondering how I got here- walking around Portland, Oregon, with my family and friends across the country in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s not an uncommon story.

In high school, I saw a boy walking down the hall. He had light blue eyes, eyelashes for days,  a handsome face and an athletic build. He was always smiling and laughing, except when he looked at me in the hall that day. He stopped laughing and just stared at me walk by. I was new, having come from catholic grade school, and super intimidated, so I just stared back and walked by.

A year later, in mid-fall, he asked me if I wanted to go to a party with him.

“Sure,” I said.

I decided to bring a friend. He showed up alone.

We went to the party, spent some time together, and really had fun with other people who were there. After that night, he called me to hang out a lot. So I would go, because he was so much fun, and hang out with him and his friends, sometimes both of our friends, sometimes just us. We went to the park, we went to the mall, we drove around, he attempted to take me four-wheeling (I got out of the car and refused, as he laughed), we went to lunch. We had a lot of fun just going places together and hanging out with each other. It was really fun. This went on for months, until summer rolled around and he kissed me. I didn’t know what was going to happen after that, and I was really nervous. But, everything just kind of stayed the same, but became more romantic. We were a couple. And we started doing things as a couple, not just as friends. I introduced him to my family (as my boyfriend now), I met his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We went to family functions with each other. My siblings and cousins grew up with him there as part of the family. Our first official Valentine’s Day together, I had to work, and he filled my car full of pink balloons and left a bouquet of pink roses on the drivers seat with a note that said, “Can’t wait to see you later.” And when I did finally see him, he had a HUGE box wrapped for me. And he just stood there grinning and said, “Open it!” Inside were a million little things he knew I liked, like make-up, cd’s and clothes. He loved to spoil me. And I really enjoyed it. We spent more and more time together. I was now in college, so it was easy to forget about friends when he was around. And we got really serious.

But the following Valentine’s Day, he did something different. He had wrapped ten, individual boxes for me. He told me to open them in order, so I did.

The first box held a single rose, three pieces of red ribbon, and a page with three holes punched down the left hand side. It read, “R and H” in magazine cut out letters. I was confused. I laughed, and so did he, then he handed me another box. In the second was another rose, and another page, but this time, it said, “Our First Date” and he had written the story of our first date (which he claims is the day I showed up with a friend because I didn’t want to be alone with him). It was written from his perspective, how nervous he was, and how he would never forget it. I was shocked. It too had three  holes punched down the left hand side. Then he handed me another box, which held another rose, and the story of our first kiss. Each box held a page of our relationship together. And after the last box was opened and the final page placed behind the others, he tied them all together with the three pieces of ribbon. He had made me a book.

 

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.