Are you here to stay?
I get asked this question on average once a week by strangers and friends alike. I have an answer, “No.” I usually follow with, “No plans at the moment.” But inside I always think, What an impossible question.
It’s not an impossible question for everyone. I know a girl from Georgia who long dreamed of Ireland and is now married to a Dub. I know a guy from Chihuahua who married an Irish ballet dancer in Mexico. After the birth of their first daughter, they sold everything, including a business, and came to Ireland. To stay.
We sold a bunch of stuff and gave away stuff and threw away stuff and sent our dog to live in Indiana. We were throwing ballast off a hot air balloon, quickly, madly. Divest! But we also packed up stuff and stored it away. A lifetime of collection snug in 150 square feet. Sometimes we talk about our stuff. My Christmas decorations and that black skirt with eyelet lace. Bill’s Le Creuset dutch oven. The KitchenAid stand mixer. We both miss that thing.
And I haven’t had yellow squash in three years or heard tree frogs on a summer’s eve. My Dad’s birthday is next week and I’ll be very far away. Am I here to stay?
A Kiwi colleague at work also hears the question again and again: Are you here for good? We laugh at the impossibleness of it. “How am I supposed to know that?” he says. “I just tell people I’m staying as long as I’m having fun.” It’s a good answer. Then we cast an eye around our corporate cubbyhole office and laugh even harder. Our project at work is not overwhelmingly fun. “But it’s what you do when you leave the office,” he says. “Our jobs would be similar at home.” And again, he’s right. Even though he’s under 30 (with a surfer’s hair and sensibility) and can therefore more legitimately make life decisions based on Fun, I think he’s right.
The last couple months have been almost swallowed by work. Busy. Stressful. All the simple problems solved long ago. The remaining issues are recalcitrant and ornery. And the people are becoming more like that too. My sense of fun is diminished. But as I ride home from work I notice a blue sky behind the peaked entrance to Trinity College, and the sun glinting off the Liffey makes even Liberty Hall look lovely. One Sunday we have a great lunch at The Winding Stair, and on another we eat SPARwiches in Stephen’s Green, listen to a community brass band, lie upon the grass and read for hours. We visit the beaches in Portrane and finally try the fish and chips at Pipers, now a must-visit place when we have visitors.
Of course no one knows if she’s someplace to stay. Not completely. Anyone could get a yearning tomorrow, something Tookish. Something unexpected. I’ll always be glad that Bill and I picked up and went when we felt there was somewhere to go. I hope we always will. And sometimes going means returning.