Puddle Jumping

02 Jul 2010

Having married an Irish farmer means I will forever be a world-class traveller. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if your husband is an Irish farmer he will forever be whisking you all over the world on luxurious romantic holidays. No, I am afraid not. It means that until I can no longer walk on my own two feet, I will be constantly travelling between Ireland and the USA for the next 50+ years to come.

I am not complaining, (repeat, not complaining), but while it can positively be best of both worlds, it is also risky, time-consuming, exhausting and expensive. Don’t get me wrong…once we’ve landed in the glorious and gooey sweet lands of my “home sweet home” things are absolutely fabulous. A joy comes over me that is thoroughly cathartic. If we luck out and get an upgrade on the plane or have a layover at a child-friendly airport filled with children’s activities and healthy food options {think Schipol, O’Hare, Heathrow} we are good as gold. However, as we know, this is not usually the case.

Packing for the transition from farm to city life has its challenges too. The concept of packing everything and nothing and have it all be organized ahead of time kills me. I am forever trying to establish a tried and true packing/ organizational plan, but in the end we are so busy here that everything waits until last minute and it always, always, becomes a frenzied state of panic on the eve of our departure. To add to the complexity, attire is poles apart when it comes to what to wear each day. Where I come from in the USA, daily temperatures average 30+ degrees Celsius in the summer so we must dress far lighter than we do in Ireland on even the warmest days here. Our daily look changes from jumpers, jeans and wellies to sleeveless tops, shorts and flip-flops. Our “farmer’s tans” are very obvious so this clearly needs to be evened immediately upon getting settled in. Basically speaking, the first few days leave me feeling exposed and vulnerable in a peculiar kind of way. This annual experience could practically be compared to newborn animals nervously feeling their way around their new habitat,

I had an epiphany when I traveled to NYC in March for a business meeting. Our plane couldn’t land at JFK due to extreme weather and was diverted to Washington DC. I was on my own and it was a terrifying experience. When we landed in DC we stayed on the tarmac for an hour waiting to see if the weather would subside. There were jets patiently parked everywhere around us, and it sort of began to remind me of our cows anxiously waiting to get into the milking parlour for little relief. All I could think about was that I just wanted to be back at the farm with my boys. Then the pilot announced that we weren’t going anywhere. The plane was damaged and weather further deteriorating. As fate would have it, I bumped into a 91 year-old Irishman who was also on our diverted flight and was as cool as a cucumber. He told me his name was Danny and that he’d been living in the USA since 1940. Danny could barely see or walk, but still came back home to Ireland year after year despite the fact that his wife now has Alzheimer’s and cannot accompany him. He wore a pair of remarkable large black horn-rimmed glasses, a tweed jacket and still spoke with the sweetest strong Kerry accent. I chaperoned him to the hotel that the airline had booked us into and then instead of having to spend an entire second day in DC, I booked us both onto the express train to NYC in the morning. We shared a taxi to the train station and sat next to each other on the train. When I offered to get him something from the dining carriage, he asked for a cream roll and tea with milk. Since we were in the “silent” car we sat in silence for the 2.5 hours through several major cities along the Eastern seaboard until we arrived at Penn Station in Manhattan. He used my mobile to ring his brother to let him know that he was back in town. We gave each other a big hug and he got into a taxi and drove away.

If he can do it, I can.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photo courtesy of DailyCandy.com

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One Response to “Puddle Jumping”

  1. Another great post Imen! It surprises me that one as travel experienced (and wordly!) as you, would have reservations about ending up in DC. But what a fortunate turn of events to have met Danny.

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