Torn in two (a guest post) :: at home in Ireland

25 October 2013

Today I'm sharing a story offered up by a new friend. Allison and I met through our husbands and immediately I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. Watching her blend her identity as a Canadian prairie girl with life as an Irish mum and wife has inspired me. She makes a brilliant writing co-conspirator... and a mean cappucino, too.



We got married in 1999, despite the cultural differences and the ocean between our backgrounds and families. There was no question of us living in Canada; his job is here and secure, and I had no practical ties to my homeland (just emotional ones). The first few years were good but hard; I struggled to make connections and "fit in." Now, we have roots: a home, two children, a dog. I have good friends. I have Irish citizenship. I can drive here (that took a while), I know where I like to shop, and I am involved in local stuff - the girls' school, my dance class, a church. I play tour guide to our visitors. Life is here, and it is rich.

But I will always be torn in two. I might have Irish citizenship, but I still think of myself as Canadian. I will never quite "fit in." I still have my Canadian accent. I have learned to say "tom-ah-to" instead of "tom-ay-to," but I still say "mall" the Canadian way ("mahl," not "mall" with a short "a"). I am a prairie girl; I miss the huge skies and the Rocky Mountains and the snowy winters (sometimes). I love my husband's family, but I miss mine. My daughters think of Canada as a holiday destination, not as home. I missed my Grandad's funeral, and I will not be there for my parents' 65th birthdays. Ireland has changed a lot over the past 14 years, and it is a fantastic place in many ways: so green, so cosmopolitan, so creative. So old. And I love my life. But I remain an ex-pat Canadian longing for the places of my childhood.

And I'm OK with that. It has taken a while, but that's where I'm at. I have grown to understand that this tension between past and present, between here and there, is just part of life; I am the better for it. And besides, regardless of where we live and where we're from, we are all "aliens and strangers" on this planet; we are all longing for our true *someday* home. For now, I am content to be a mixed-up ex-pat, a mum of Irish kids, a child of the God of heaven and earth.

12 comments:

  1. Beautifully put Allison, there are many of us Canadians here who feel similarly.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Michelle, and I can relate too. :)

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    1. Can't wait to introduce you two. :)

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  3. Thanks everyone for testing the comments on the blog and especially for reading Allison's great post! I'm still unable to comment using Chrome... I must just be daft! Will sort it eventually. Thanks for all the help. :)

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  4. Unblocking third party cookies has allowed me to post. Tommy G. (formerly Dragontatt)

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    1. Hooray! This did the trick. Thank you, Tommy!

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  5. As Allison's mother, I can feel the difficulties Allison has had trying to transition from a Canadian prairie girl to and Irish wife and mother. Her living in Ireland has been both a blessing and a tragedy! I miss her dearly and wish we could be closer in many ways. She has missed so many family joys and sorrows, but has been able to attend many others. I am grateful that Allison and her family were able to attend my mother's 90th birthday. It was the last time they saw her and I hope they will remember the great time they had with with all the relatives (except 2). Allison was able to attend her grandmother's funeral in early December, but was unable to return for her grandfather's the end of the same month.
    On the other side of the coin, by marrying an Irish man, she has afforded a lot of people the opportunity to visit such a wonderful country and see sights that we would never have seen otherwise. She has given me two wonderful granddaughters, a super son-in-law and insight into a different but no less glorious way of life.
    I will always wish that she lived closer so we could see them more often, I will always wish that she is happy and I will always love her, and her family, with all my heart

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Allison's mom! I'm sure my mother (also named Alison, see above) can relate.

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