Friday, April 15, 2005

The Mother of All Reverse Commutes

Well, strictly speaking, this can't really be called reverse-commuting, since I won't be going back and forth in regular intervals. But my move to Ireland is a reverse-something. Reverse-immigration perhaps.

Sometime in the middle of the 1800's, I want to say 1860-ish but I could be wrong and I am sure a family historian will correct me, my paternal grandmother's grandmother came to America from Northern Ireland. She was born there when the area was firmly part of Britain and she was reportedly fond of saying "If a cat had kittens in the oven, it wouldn't make them biscuits."

Sadly, my grandmother was the keeper of our family's lore and she's gone now so I can't ask her why her grandmother came to America. Maybe it was because of food scarcity or job scarcity or any-sort-of-decent-life-prospects scarcity. It had to have been difficult to live in a country where discrimnation against Catholics was not just legal, it was practically encouraged. I can only guess at my great-great-great grandmother's reasons for immigrating. I can only imagine what the journey must have been like.

Comparatively, my journey was a snap. Six and a half hours wedged into an uncomfortable seat on an Aer Lingus Airbus and then viola, I was here. But why? Why walk away from a perfectly decent life? I'm not an economic migrant or a political refuge by any stretch of the imagination. I'd make more money in the US and have a lower cost of living. Irish politics aren't really better than American politics, they're just different. There seems to be a fair bit of corruption around these parts.

So why am I here? Believe me, I was asking that question a lot the first two days or so. I don't think I can encapsulate my reasons into one tidy answer. It has something to do with being closer to Peter's family and his dearest friends. It has something to do with trying out something completely different, the challenge and excitement and nearly-keel-over fear of staring at a blank slate, a fresh start.

I wonder what my grandmother and my great-great-great grandmother are making of this. Do they think I'm making a mistake? Are they pleased that I'm putting down roots in their homeland? I wish I knew.

Could it be that this will turn out to be a "grass is always greener" situation? Sure it could. But it will be fun finding out.


At 15 April 2005 at 02:29, Blogger Career Guy said...

Yay, a comment! Oh's just me. I tell people that you and Peter had planned to do this at some point, so it may as well be now. I would guess that those ancestors would be pleased to have you back in the fold, though they might not understand the motives of 'damn teenagers'.

At 15 April 2005 at 20:11, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cheery William of Orange made it illegal for Catholics in the UK to own land (and do a lot else) in the 1640's. However those laws were repelled in 1829. The famine I believe didn't affect NI like it did the republic from 1846 to 1850. Of course if I was living in such a hostile place and saw the population nearly halve in only five years I'd be catching the first coffin ship out of there too.

- Shane

At 20 April 2005 at 04:39, Blogger Stacey said...

Isn't the grass supposed to be greener in Ireland??? Best wishes to you in your new endeavor.

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