Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Foreign object(ive)s

Three weeks before we left Seattle, we went away for the weekend with great mates. They, like us, were British, but, unlike us, were committed to staying in the US forevah. At the end of a bottle or few, someone asked what we'd be taking with us back to Europe.

It was an easy enough answer, actually. 'That sense of possibility', I said. 'The way, if you say you're going to try something new, everything gets really enthused. It's lovely to live around and it gives me way more confidence'.

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There are many things I love about Ireland; the dips and curls in the language, the colour in the expressions, the friends that come pre-packaged with a healthy dose of 'stealth evil'. But over the years, I came to learn that where the US is known (and often derided) for its insistence on a 'can-do culture', sodding Ireland can quite often be guilty of a 'can't-do culture'. There are a million historical and sociological reasons for this; but as a damn foreigner, it can be wearing, in the same way as living amongst someone's ingrained optimism is oddly liberating.

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When we first mentioned that we were moving back to England, our Irish friends would often say to us, 'but you seemed so happy here'. And I guess that's the point; this is where what we brought back from Seattle comes into play. We were happy in Ireland. We have fabulous friends; a really nice, comfortable lifestyle; the boys were thriving. But at the backs of our minds was the ultimate in American doctrines: the pursuit of happiness. And sure, we were happy. But was that a reason not to make a change? Maybe it's because we're contrary to the point of obnoxiousness sometimes, but for us that seemed almost to be the reason to consider a move. Were the essential things that were missing in our lives (close family access; friends who'd known us since the year dot; a sense of belonging to a country) going to be things that would make enough of a difference?

We don't know the answer to this, of course. And I'm guessing that repatriation is going to take just as long to get used to as living outside the country did. But because of our time in the US, we felt that just giving it a go is going to give us something. Mal sehen, as the Germans put it.

2 comments:

kenanddot said...

One of the things that got me about Ireland when we first moved here was the evident satisfaction with which shop-owners would find out what I was looking for and then tell me they didn't have it. Or, if they did have it, try to persuade me I didn't want it (or could buy something better from a different shop). The UK has something of a can't-do culture on occasion, but nothing like that.

I've slowly realised that I love it here. I'm a gloomy sod at heart:-)

kenanddot said...

I've tagged you for a meme. It's not necessarily the sort of thing you want to do with this blog, but could be made as discursive as you like if you do think it would be fun.