I discovered my love of Ireland back in the early 90’s on family trips, but it was in 2006 when I found my Irish man to love and a 'home' where I long to be.
I still remember the first time we met. I was traveling alone with my little rental car and three maps. I was booked into the Connemara Coast Hotel in Galway, enjoying a pint with some new friends. He walked in and our eyes met.
His eyes could see right through me. What I thought was a brief encounter turned into a love I had never known before. A carpenter by trade but a farmer by birthright and love, he showed me places and things that you would never find in travel brochures. He showed me the 'real' Ireland and what it meant to live in Ireland and live like an Irish farmer.
Never in my life did I think I would be gathering turf for the fire that kept us warm at night, working a farm and sitting in an authentic Irish kitchen with a woman, his mother, who did not take kindly to a 'Yank' invading her territory or possibly taking her only son from her.
My stay at the Connemara Coast Hotel was ending and I was traveling to a town called Doolin staying at the Aran View Hotel, situated across from the famous Cliffs of Moher. I thought I would never see him again, but feeling what I was feeling, he found me in Doolin and it has been a journey of ever-growing love since.
I hail from New York and my journey 'home' the same time each year has always led me back to his arms. Over the years as we have both grown older, our love grows ever stronger.
Separated by 3,000 miles, extreme individual and economic uncertainty has kept us apart until the two-weeks a year in which I travel over to be in his embrace.
He stays for his love of his mother, land and country. I stay in America, captive without a work permit or working visa for ireland .
All I have to hold onto is the pictures, calls and memories’ and the dream that one day it will no longer be the same time next year but rather together every day-- waking in his arms and minding him, as he has always minded me.
My grandfather, reared in County Kerry, always told me we are each dealt a deck of cards. It is what we do with the cards that make the difference. The catch is you only have once chance to reshuffle the cards. I live in the fear of shuffling the cards and losing the chance of happiness. For now, I must live the mundane life without my love and a country that is home to me.
As we said our last goodbye this year we kissed each other’s tears and a wave of dread that I may never see my love again has haunted me ever since. I ask myself, will there be another same time next year? I hold onto the words of Carl Sandburg, “Nothing happens unless first a dream”.