days when the rain came
Tomorrow afternoon an airplane will lift off from Charles de Gaulle airport, sail through the sky, and drop me at Belfast International.
With two weeks off and the family I work for in the Alps, I'm going back to Northern Ireland.
Three years ago I spent a year living in Northern Ireland. I walked to school in a uniform every day, drank myself silly every weekend, and starting saying things like "What about ya?" Or "What's the craic?"
I shared a small damp apartment with my mother, who left her life at home to taste a new one, just for a year, in the country she left as a little girl.
We kept warm by snuggling into her bed and reading poetry.
We kept busy by going to lectures, taking train rides, and hunting down live music. We spent all day in the rain, on the lawn of an old castle, and saw Van Morrison sing live in concert.
We didn't have a car, we didn't have much money, and we didn't have the same values as the religious community that surrounded us, but we got by.
We got by because we had family. We had my mothers cousin, his beautiful family, and my great auntie Isabelle. Their generosity kept us alive. They lent us furniture, bed sheets, invited us for dinner, drove us places, and showed us the beauty of this small damp country.
My second cousin, Suzi, felt like a close friend from the moment she picked us up from the airport, and never treated me like the 16-year-old I was.
Sixteen or not, I went clubbing and bar hopping in Northern Ireland more than I ever have in my life. I would saunter into liquor stores, buy a bottle of vodka, and walk out with a proud Canadian smile. I would wear skirts to bars, order double vodka redbulls, and grin as my 18-year-old friend was made to go home to get his ID.
I like Northern Ireland. I like the people. I like the accents. I love my family there. I don't like the bland food or the fight over religion, but it's all worth putting up with the second you enter a bar, or sit down with family for a Sunday roast.
So I'm going back. Back to my roots. Back to a part of my life. Back to the accents, the bars, and to the people who took me in when I was sure I didn't belong.