As a non-resident immigrant living in the US, we had limited political agency (I retained overseas voting rights for the UK, my husband was wholly politically disenfranchised) – and we were specifically warned about getting “too involved” in anything political by our relocation team. At times, as you may imagine, this was incredibly frustrating – especially during the global clusterfuck that was 2016. So one of the things I promised myself when I moved back to Ireland was that I would get involved in the causes that matter to me. One of those things – and the one I mostly yell about on the internet – is abortion rights.
I’ve had a busy few weeks. Last weekend, we had a friend from Seattle visiting at the end of a big Europe trip, as well as an old university friend of mine from London. The weekend before that we were in Naples, visiting another Seattle friend on a Europe trip. And the weekend before THAT my mum was over and I graduated. So we’ve now got three weeks of laundry, no groceries, and – perhaps inevitably – I am going to offload my thoughts onto the internet.
On Friday, I attended the graduation ceremony for my Bsc in Psychology with the Open University. It was emotional and gratifying, finally getting some fancy robes and a glass of bubbles after years of work. Studying while working full time and still trying to be a human being is hard, but it was worth it. I can’t escape a certain sadness though. And it’s not just because the journey’s over.
A friend asked me the other day if I was settled back into Ireland. The question threw me and left me distinctly unsettled – and it took me a while to realise why. I’ve been back in Dublin since December – and I’m pretty settled. I’ve caught up with old friends, got a job, an apartment, updated my Netflix account. The usual.
I have settled back into Dublin, and it has been comfortable and easy, for the most part – like wrapping myself in warm blankets that smell like home. Because Dublin has been my home, more or less, since I was 18. I spent a year in Britain, and nearly 3 in America – so this is actually the third time I’ve moved to Dublin – once in my teens, once in my twenties and now in my thirties, and this is the time I’m probably aware of what I’m getting into. (Someday, I’ll write about the ignorant, arrogant teenager who moved here at 18. Not today though).
2016 is – thankfully – nearly over. It has been a hell of a year to be an immigrant in the US. When I moved here three years ago, I never thought for a moment that they would be inaugurating President Trump in 2017.
I swear I was leaving anyway.
I have been putting off writing this post. I didn’t want to write it – I didn’t think I’d have to. I thought, in the days following November 8th, that I’d be able to write something about glass ceilings, and the women who waited 96 years, and the US joining the growing community of nations with a female head of state. It would have been schlocky, probably. Screw that – it definitely would have been overly sentimental.
But instead, the American people made a choice that I don’t think I will ever really understand. And so we face an uncertain and terrifying future, with a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic homophobic, you’ve-been-Tangoed personification of a YouTube comment thread poised to take the helm.
I have written and rewritten this post a few times now; I’m giving up on trying to say anything coherent. Election years are always somewhat bombastic over here – and this has been a particularly turbulent one. I have a lot of feelings about this election, and I don’t seem to be able to verbalise any of them adequately.
So I’m just going to say that this is an important election – not least for my fellow immigrants, many of whom are not as fortunate as I am.
So for those of us who can’t, and who will live with the consequences, vote.
Different people want different things from travel – nature, culture, nightlife, history. When I travel, I like to understand a bit of the social history – how people lived, that kind of thing. So it is perhaps inevitable that we made the decision to visit a slave plantation while in Louisiana.