People have been asking me since our return to Ireland last May if we miss New York. My answer has always been “no but we miss our friends terrible,” and it was the truth, up until now that is. It finally hit me; that homesick feeling (if you can call it homesick for a land we only ever lived in for nine short years) about a week ago and if I’m being brutally honest it hasn’t gone away. It’s like a knot in my stomach or a mild belly ache.
I’m not saying I don’t like Ireland anymore, quite the opposite, I love Ireland more and more everyday if you can believe that and at the same time I really miss New York. And there is no question in my mind we made the right decision to move back to Ireland when we did. We are tremendously happy here so why is it I get a little sad when I see an episode of Law and Order or hear Frank Sinatra’s infamous song “New York, New York”?
I will always miss our friends; that’s something we just have to live with on a regular basis - the sadness of not knowing when we can see them again - but this past week I’ve been missing New York City, Yonkers, and America in general a lot.
Why has this happened all of a sudden?
It could be something to do with the low after the high of Christmas, or the winter blues (it’s cold, damp, dark early and it doesn’t get bright till 8.00 a.m.) or it could be the fact that in the next few weeks friends and relations of ours are traveling to New York for mini vacations.
Maybe it’s really a feeling of jealousy that has overcome me. They will get to walk down the streets of Manhattan, the very same streets that I carved my own little life out of not so long ago. They will go to Woodbury Commons and Jersey Gardens to shop, malls I frequented on many occasions to get the latest bargains. They will also eat in some of the restaurants my husband John and I dined in so many times and if they’re lucky they will experience a real snowfall, something I miss so much.
January and February are quiet time for everyone here in Ireland and I’m sure it’s pretty much the same in New York. There isn’t much happening outside of our regular lives with the kids and work. People are broke after Christmas, the weather isn’t appropriate for outdoor activities and there is an overall feeling of despair in the air.
I guess this feeling of longing for the Big Apple was about to come at some point. Since our arrival back to Ireland we have been on the go non-stop. John and I both began working the first few weeks of moving home. Colum (our 2-year-old son) and Sadie (our-11-month-old daughter) began daycare at the same time and it’s been a busy few months.
I like being busy and maybe it’s the slowness of the new year that has me in my head. I work as an Irish Sign Language Interpreter and January is slow in my business. The downtime has me thinking and feeling a little whacky I guess.
I suppose it’s like a break-up. A break-up you initiated and for the first few months you don’t miss the person but suddenly out of nowhere you begin thinking about the person, reminiscing about all the good times you had together and wonder if you should make contact with them again.
I’ve nine years of New York memories etched into my brain and they are all wonderful. In fact I don’t think I can think of one bad time, at least none that have stayed with me anyway and it’s nice to tap into them often and be thankful for the time we had in New York. John and I often discuss the little things we experienced in America and it’s nice to share that together, I just don’t want to have this sad feeling now when I do talk about it. I haven’t asked John if he is feeling the same but I’ve no doubt his answer would be “Ah cop on April I love being home, I enjoyed my time over but sure haven’t we got everything we want here.” And he would be right.
Our good friends Jason and Irma just had a beautiful baby boy whom they named Mason last week and as any parent knows the birth of a child is something so special. After leaving the hospital after meeting the little man for the first time I got emotional. I have such fond memories of the birth of our children in New York and whether I like it or not I’ll always have a very strong emotional attachment to the country for that very reason.
And in a few weeks my daughter will turn one. She will share her birthday with Ailbhe Doherty, the daughter of Orla and Eunan. Also that same week our friends Mary Brennan and Charlie Shields will celebrate the first birthday of their daughter Sarah. Orla, Mary and I went through our pregnancies together and that was a very special bonding time too. I miss them and am a little sad that Sadie won’t get to celebrate with her little friends.
There have also been a lot of goodbyes in the past few weeks. Goodbyes that are the product of the recession. Friends, relations and friends of friends have packed their bags and boarded planes bound for Canada and Australia. It’s been a sad month for many families and an exciting month for those about to begin a new adventure in unfamiliar territory. One girl I know from school went to Canada this past weekend in the hope to finding a new life. Her family (especially her 66-year-old mother) was devastated. Her dad died six months ago and her only other sibling works in London. But it was her time to try new things (she lost her marketing job in 2011 and didn’t have much luck finding anything since). She was beyond excited the night before she left and it brought me back to 2003 when I left my simple life in Ireland for bigger and better things in America and I don’t regret one bit of it.
But would I move back to New York in the morning if I could afford to live a comfortable life and provide all the necessary bits for my kids? The answer is no. Our lives are in Ireland now and it’s where our hearts are (even if my mind is sometimes 3,000 miles across the Atlantic). But it would be nice in an ideal world to visit New York as often as possible to keep up the romance I have with it.
One thing is for sure, when the kids get older, we have our own home (we are only renting at the moment) and we can save enough money to afford a fantastic holiday we will be back to the country that brought John and I together, that gifted us with two children and that provided us with nine wonderful years of great memories. So I guess I’ll see you in a few years, New York.
It’s now time for me to get out of my head and into my car to collect my children from daycare but before I do I will switch on the television and delete my recorded episodes of Law and Order, I’m just teasing myself!
Jackie Kennedy's private life revealed by her Irish-born assistant