If I knew then – what I know now…
I sometimes wonder what would have become of me, if I had never left Ireland. I’m not a person for harboring regrets – and I have always known that me leaving there was a deeply embedded destination that was born with me.
For as long as I can recall, I had leaving on my mind. Yet, I was very happy for to never leave. And if it wasn’t for the woman who later became my wife, having up and left for London – I might never have left at all.
I left for love.
People ask me today, how I have held onto my Irishness so strongly. Over these nearly forty years of being away, I have sometimes wondered if indeed there is an honest-to-goodness answer to that very question. And if there is to be a correct answer – the romantic in me always chooses to believe, that although my heart pushed me to leave in the pursuit of love – my heart was hoping that once I found her, I would bring the three of us right back home.
It’s windy here in New York tonight. It’s a very different, and much less charismatic wind that blows up through Brooklyn – when compared to those other-worldly howlers that I grew up with back in Ballinlough. I’m sometimes asked here what I miss most about Ireland. I think I surprise people ( maybe even shock them ) when I tell them – the wind and the rain.
For as much as I have always been drawn to the wind – wind was never worth a spit to me, if there was never teeming rain to accompany it. I would lay there in bed at night, clutching feverishly to the blanket, as I wrapped it tighter and tighter around my neck. The wind would come roaring up out of the bog from all the way back in Ballinamona – driving the rain into a drenching frenzy – battering that old reliable gabled window, that fortunately never once gave way to it.
I would close my eyes and listen to the awful screaming of something that I believed the wind had picked up and brought to me from long ago and far away. I would duck down and cover my head deep under the blanket and try to make sense of that most intense pleading that pelted against the window panes.
Those voices have always stayed with me over the years. They don’t scare me now like they used to back then. When I hear them now, they bring me comfort. They have become the heart and soul of what I miss most about home.
So I don’t know what would have become of me if I had never left home. All I am sure of is – you can take the man from the bog – but you can’t take the bog from the man.