The ever-reliable they say that in every conversation there is a systematic lull every seven minutes, a sort of limbo before a conversation ends, continues on the same path, or changes course: Do we part ways, shall we try something else, or is there more to explore here? Whether scientifically proven or not, the notion gives me pause (pun definitely intended) as I sit here to write about the 30 or so days since my last entry.
I think they may be on to something. Maybe it’s not just conversations. Maybe there’s some algorithm hard-coded into each of us that prescribes how often we need to take a break from an experience or sit back and take stock. In fact, most people do this to some extent on an annual basis when the New Year comes around or as we tick the calendar on another birthday. Maybe some of us need more lulls in our internal conversations while others need fewer. For me right now, monthly stock-takings are prevailing.
As I look back on my second month in Ireland, it feels a bit like limbo. A natural pause—if only a slight one—in which I’m playing the hokey pokey between two lives: one foot in, one foot out and a whole lot of shaking going on. (Oh, the puns.) One in the life that took me years to settle into back home in Texas and one in the life I’ve just started here in Ireland.
Before I continue, let me be clear: I am not homesick (yet; ask me again in six months). Rather, I’m conscious of my split roles. I’m still a daughter, sister, and aunt to family back in the U.S., with friends and activities that took years to cultivate. But I’m also a resident and tax-paying member of this beautiful country nearly 4,400 miles away from that other life.
I now have an apartment for which I signed the lease and for which I am to pay the rent the next 10 months. But, it comes furnished, as do most rentals here, making it difficult to feel fully at home because apart from my clothes and a few small impersonal objects I’ve acquired since arriving, nothing is mine. Yet buying things to personalize my space presents its own challenges: I’ll just have to get rid of my new stuff when I go back to the states* or deal with moving it some day to another apartment which may or may not have the space or the necessity.
Beyond the household items and the contractual obligation of a lease, feeling at home is further hindered by the lack of the social and day-to-day habits to which I’d grown accustomed. Since 2009, for example, I bowled in a league with my dad, my mom joining us the last couple of years as a spectator and eventually a substitute. Though some nights were better than others, for 36 weeks a year we bowled together as a family, sipping beer (or wine, for mom) while griping about or celebrating that last frame.
Two years ago I began improvisation classes through which I made some wonderful and hopefully lifelong friends while literally standing alone on a stage, under a spotlight, and in front of complete strangers to bare my soul for two minutes. If people still like you after that you’re almost obligated to keep them around.
Of course, there’s also my dog, whom I sadly had to leave behind. He was what I came home to every day and snuggled up with every night. (OK, so I’m a little homesick about Peanut.)
So while I may be 100% physically here and feel that I’m on the whole mentally here, it’s sometimes strange to realize that I can’t just pop over to the bowling alley for a couple games with my parents, hit up an improv workshop or free-play session, or curl up beside Peanut when I feel like it. In the end, it’s just a pause, a lull in the conversation with myself. Do I part ways? Shall I start something new? Or, am I not finished yet here?
It’s definitely not yet time to go. I just got here, after all. Now, which foot was in?
*To my family, friends, and mostly coworkers: I have no immediate intentions of moving back to the U.S. This is me simply being pragmatic. Or, if you know me at all: me being me.