It is June 1st and time to prepare for my yearly family trip to Ireland.
While I am an America citizen now, I was once an British citizen.
I was born in London. My dad is Scottish but grew up in Ireland, my Mum is Irish. My dad was working there for a while, but when I was 3 months my parents moved back home to Dublin. For most of my life we lived in Cabinteely, in the house that my mother still lives in today, the very house my kids race around in each year when we go stay with her.
I was 19 when I met my future husband, Mark.
He was studying theology in Yale university and had a Rotary Scholarship to study in a foreign country for a year. He choose to come to Trinity College in Dublin which was where I was studying Psychology.
We met at a party about 6 weeks before he was to return to the States. We saw each other everyday for those few weeks. We were crazy in love, but we made no plans to continue to see each other. All I remember is the emptiness when he left. I ached for his letters (yes, pre-internet romance!). I tried to learn how to drink coffee just to remember his smell. I listened to country music to capture a sense of the Southwest, where he was from. I wrote endless poems. But I was in college and he had graduated and was American; I had never even been off the British Isles let alone ever thought of living in another country!
The next year he got an internship to learn German and work in a company in Lichtenstein. He called me up out of the blue and asked me to visit him there. It was the craziest thing I had ever done! I remember being so nervous going over - what if we didn't like each other? what if our connection had only been a made up romance? But when we stood at the bus stop outside the airport and he touched my hair I knew it was all still there.
After that we saw each other in every holiday we had. He came to Dublin, I went back to Lichtenstein, then when he was home in the US I visited him there, he came to Dublin, and so on until we finally got married in London when he was studying law at Notre Dame, who have a London campus. I was 23.
15 years, 5 kids, 4 house moves and a published book later we live an hour north of Houston. We are happy. We are home. We have our real life friends. I have my blogging friends, you!
Dublin will always be in my soul though. I know the streets, the songs, the smells, the people, the greenness, the poetry. Mark and I want our American children to have a sense of where their mother came from. We want them to live here and know that in a day they can be over there with their Irish family. We want them to see the world as small and accessible. We want them to love traveling, but to love even more coming home here to Houston, to Magnolia with a sense of who they are.
As the kids grow older we intend to take them more places, to use Dublin as a launching pad to visit other European countries and one day, perhaps, parts of Africa. This is all part of their education, but also the formation of their character.
To chronicle my trip this year I will be forgoing my usual blogging schedule and posting at the minimum a photo a day for each day of June and July, sometimes I may have something to say, other times... well I may only have time for a photo.
So I invite you to come visit Ireland with me (we leave next week).
(For a foretaste, you can view last year's photos here)