I’m not sure why I decided to book a flight to the land of opportunity and the American dream.
Visual images of NYC - the Brooklyn Bridge, The Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty - captured my imagination and as an unabashed lover of history, it was mentally, emotionally and spiritually alluring to come to a great city.
I left myself five months to live carefree in the land of the free...it was the beginning. The beginning of what? I didn’t know, but it was certainly the beginning.
I was on a journey of self discovery, a path only I could walk. At that juncture, I was at a crossroads as to where life was taking me.
As I waited to check in, budding seeds of fear began to germinate and grow to fruition in my mind.
Once on the flight, anticipation of wanting to escape was something I couldn’t contain, and as soon as I stepped out the arrivals gates I was home free.
I rendezvoused with a friend and exchanged pleasantries of old buddies reunited after years apart.
I never enquired to know where he lived when we spoke previously, but anywhere was far-afield from where I didn’t wanna be. I settled in with ease in his cramped dark basement and slept soundly that night. The next morning I awoke, but upon leaving the house, found myself in Woodlawn.
Irish flags adorned the neighborhood and caught in the updraft of tradition, they swayed proudly aligning the pubs and bars.
This was a far cry from what I envisioned within my mind’s eye, but it wasn’t until I heard the accents I realized life had an ironic sense of humor
I left Ireland to experience something new and ironically, I find I’ve landed back in Ireland. The difference being, I had no identity… an uninvited guest, or more concisely, a man without a country, just one more individual who joined the ranks of illegals, who knew nobody, had no prospects of work since America was spiraling into a declining economy, nor a trade, and as it were, everybody of Irish nationality worked the calloused game of construction.
I was a nobody who dreamed of being a somebody, in a neighborhood full of people you couldn’t differentiate from each other. Same jobs, work ethic, and the only form of entertainment was a jukebox. There wasn’t an ocean anymore between myself and Ireland because it reminded me of home more than I cared to remember. Everybody knew your face, business and only spoke a sober frame of mind in a drunken intonation. The humdrum life of the everyday norm, the nine to five and rat race for the almighty dollar didn’t appeal. Upon first impression it was another working man’s neighborhood living a life of routine monotony.
I live a life similar now, working mundane jobs for menial pay, having more in common with my Spanish brethren than my own, but four years after my initial response, my perspective changed. Life’s been ups and downs, a roller coaster in that respect, but I’ve learned what school didn’t provide a curriculum for, and since experience is the best teacher, it’s taught me to aspire more than my perceived authority figures ever tried to teach.
Lessons in love, politics and the multitude of people from all walks of life, whether they were those I’ve worked with closely or random occurrences with strangers, have contributed to who I am now, for better, and for worse, but I can confidently say America is home.
Though I’ve experienced more rainy days than sunshine, I know the word ‘destiny’ has wrought a different connotation for me.
America hasn’t merely taught me value in terms of paying my own way in this world, it’s taught me I’ve gotten my best experiences for free… which provided a lot of change also, change that can be measured in self worth.
At last I feel at home somewhere and it's here.
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