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.