Before I left for Ireland, people warned me (incessantly) about the strange type of sadness that permeates Life-After-Travel, and I laughed these off, chalked it up as a silly theory for overly sensitive people (of which group I don’t count myself a part).
But it’s real. Perhaps not so much a sadness, though. More like Holly Golightly’s mean reds. From the film adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote:
“You know the days when you get the mean reds?”
“The mean reds. You mean like the blues?”
“No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?”
The mean reds hit hard when I got off the plane in Alabama; the weather was totally different (cold to hot, rainy to sunny); in Ireland there was an adventure for every day, but life moves slower in Alabama. The mean reds, for me, came around when I left the place that was excitement, adventure, spontaneous joy; I suddenly had to go back to work at my desk job, go to dentist appointments, move apartments, load and unload the dishwasher, etc etc banalities of home etc.
Holly Golightly’s solution to the mean reds is to get in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. That’s about a thousand miles from Tuscaloosa, though, so I had to find other ways to fight. It turns out that Ireland was fighting for me, too. All of the things I loved about Ireland—the people, the greenness, the cliffs—can be found here, too. It’s different, but it’s there. My friends took me to the cliffs at Lake Nichol, and, even though they’re nowhere near the enormity, the awful-ness (archaic meaning) of the Irish cliffs, they have traces, echoes.
Ireland was beautiful, and I got to spend five weeks finding that beauty. But when I got back, I had to re-find the beauty of Alabama, too. And the first helped me do the second.
I’ve found that my Study Abroad experience is still teaching me things, even after it’s been over and shut for almost two weeks now; I’m learning to re-discover the beauty of familiar places, to re-love a familiar people, to open up to all facets of life, fast and slow, and say “Céad Mile Fáilte!”