Is there any way the next four months in Ireland can match my ridiculously great expectations? How many gallons of tea, Jamaica ginger cakes, meaningful conversations and seafront walks will it take to satisfy me?
Small recap: After ten years in Switzerland I have taken some time off to return to Dublin to write, spend time with friends and family and give my children a chance to be more than just visitors to Ireland.
I am finally going to connect to the everyday rhythm of Irish life again, without the pressured merry-go-round of arrangements and catching up that my shorter visits home have become. At least that’s the hope.
More than one person has warned me that what I am looking for cannot be found. They perceive me as longing for le temps perdu – the way things used to be. Could they be right? I do know it’s not the same country I left ten years ago and that time and circumstances have changed us all but do I really accept that?
So what is it I am looking for? There are concrete things like my mother’s Sunday lunch, family birthdays, a dip in the sea at Sandycove. On the cultural side I’m looking forward to my first book festival in Dun Laoghaire, an evening or two at the theatre, the writing course I’ll be attending at the Irish Writers’ Centre. My children will come home from school, happy I hope, with a few phrases of Irish and a stronger sense of their other identity.
But it is the people I have missed the most. Close friends and family in whose treasured company I passed the first thirty years of my life. People I’ve only managed to have snatched moments with for too long, not only because of the distance but because of the demands of a growing family. A reservoir of unshared stories and experiences has built up behind the dam. It’s in these relationships that the greatest potential disappointment or reward of the trip lies.
Fellow blogger Karen O’Reilly returned to Ireland with her family earlier this month for good after 11 years in France.
A lot of the reasons she gave for her decision echo my own but in my case the move is temporary. I hope the time in Ireland will soothe the homesickness I feel and help me commit more fully to my future in Switzerland. Whatever happens I think the regret of not following through on this idea would definitely do more harm in the long run. With just over two weeks to go before we leave Switzerland, any last minute advice or warnings are welcome!