This Mainer is back in Maine. While we have only been here about five months, but I feel like I have aged twenty years. Moving is terrible. Moving is particularly terrible if you have no luck. I have no luck and by no luck I mean the only thing I have ever won in my life is a toilet seat.
So of course the weekend before we flew out I sprained my ankle. We were all walking in the dunes and I stepped in a hole and collapsed over on my ankle like a big oaf. While I was laying on the grass half-laughing, half-crying my son whipped me with his jacket and then jumped on me since we all know it’s hilarious when your parents hurt themselves. My ankle seemed fine that day but over the next few days it swelled up and throbbed as I hobbled around packing boxes and bags.
The good-byes were bittersweet and tiring so by the time the flight arrived the children and I were both worn out and my eyes kept spontaneously leaking tears. This condition lasted for most of the summer, as well as my stupid swollen ankle.
I arrived in Ireland to stay when I was 24. I was young, fit, hopeful and energetic and traveling light. I left Ireland ten years older, twenty pounds fatter and with a lot of carry-on baggage – carry-on baggage that insisted on using the airplane toilet at least 7 times between them so that I spent most of the flight hopping up and down the length of the plane in a hideous support stocking over a fat bandaged ankle in a bare foot.
My husband upgraded his seat to first class and flew by himself with a three bag allowance while I threw out my favorite (only) black heels because I couldn’t fit them between the deflated O’Neills football and baby doll in my one bag. No comment.
The first month was a blur of activity catching up with family and friends and doing fun jobs, like applying for a Maine learner’s permit, getting cars, looking for houses to rent, getting a cell phone, setting up bank accounts and bank cards, interviewing for jobs, registering for school, finding a doctor without healthcare and all the other parts of moving that are magnified when you are changing countries, have no credit rating and are no longer twenty-four and single.
Shipping our personal effects was a bad idea. We only shipped twenty boxes of clothes, toys, books (my fault), shoes, photographs and left all our furniture and household goods. This cost three times as much as budgeted, took three weeks longer than expected and required hours of organization and paperwork and when our boxes arrived, we still didn’t have a pot to piss in.
As slowly as my stupid ankle healed, we got things done and we all got less homesick for everything and everyone we’d left behind in Ireland. It’s a strange feeling to be back in the town I grew up in but haven’t lived in since high school. While its familiar and nostalgic, it still feels more like my past then my present home. So here I am back in Maine, starting over at thirty-four.
* Colleen Hennessy is a freelance writer from Maine who spent ten years living and working in Ireland before returning to Maine with her family. She managed a government urban regeneration program in Ireland and is now reinventing herself in the world of e-commerce until she can make enough writing to keep her kids in Taytos and Club Orange. You can read her writing at colleenhennessy.com.