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Starting a new life in a familiar place

Last update - Wednesday, February 1, 2012, 22:23 By Tara Fannon

This is the first article I’ve written for Metro Éireann since last November. There are two main reasons for this. First, I had a Master’s dissertation to finish, which ate into my time considerably. Then came my move from Ireland back to the United States, specifically New York City.

You might be wondering why someone who no longer lives in Ireland is writing for an Irish newspaper. Yet I’m sure most people know that, among many things, New York City is a very Irish town. We’re all familiar with the stories of Irish immigrants setting sail for Ellis Island after the Great Famine. This of course resulted in many subsequent generations of Irish settling in this great city, which continues to lure Irish visitors and immigrants, young and old. I wish to tell these stories, but first I want to tell my own about trading one place for another.
The way I see it, I qualify in this regard having spent the last eight or so years in Ireland. Even though Ireland was good to me in some ways, in other ways it lacked. I never really settled in, and it was only toward the end of my time there that I made good friends and felt in any way a part of something meaningful.
From the moment I first moved to Ireland, I longed for home and that connection and camaraderie with people that always came so natural. I made up my mind early on that I would return to the US once I met my goals in Ireland.
On the day that I was to fly out, however, I felt some sadness, mainly at the thought of not regularly seeing my in-laws and the few friends I had made. But my sadness was short-lived, as I arrived home just before Thanksgiving and was immediately swept up in the business of holidays. I had no time to process my feelings about moving.
Once New Year’s came and went and the quiet returned, so too did my feelings. Initially I thought I was just afraid of the unknown and uneasy about being a small fish in a big pond again. The States has a way of making a person feel tiny. Nonetheless, this wasn’t the source of my sadness. Plain and simple, I was missing Ireland.
Sometimes I forget where I am, particularly when I’m waiting in the queue at the bank or shopping in a local market. It’s not until I step outside and look up that I realise that I’m far from my recent home. I don’t just miss my friends and my lovely sisters- and brother-in-law. I miss my life in Dublin: my quirky and well-equipped neighbourhood, my daily routines, and my knowledge of where to go for what.
Most of all I miss the easiness of operating in Ireland. I never once felt like a small fish in a big pond. Living there was only scary at the very beginning, and after that I somehow always knew that I would be all right, no matter what changed around me. I was out in Brooklyn one evening recently and these facts hit me. I became very emotional. Thankfully the room was low-lit so that I could disguise my tears, and thankfully I’m in the confines of my own apartment as I write this article so that I can disguise them once more.
Being home is scary and exhilarating. So much has changed here, and I’ve changed. I’m thrilled to be home and to be close to family and old friends again, but I’m ever so grateful for my time in Ireland. It taught me a new way of seeing that never would have been otherwise – I can say that wholeheartedly.

Tara Fannon is a Master’s graduate in sociology with plans to pursue her PhD. She currently lives in New York City.

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