Ten years ago this month, I returned to the United States after living in Ireland and England for six years. When I landed at the airport in Chicago and saw all the baseball caps and tapered blue jeans, I thought, “Why did I come back to this place?” And there hasn’t been a day since that I haven’t asked myself that same question.
I had spent the waiting hours at my gate in Dublin crying while strangers sometimes glanced at me, the seven-hour flight to Chicago crying while my seatmates avoided me, and my first two weeks back on American soil crying until I accepted my fate and moved on.
After all, I had spent hours crying a year and a half before that, when I returned to Ireland after a six-month stint with my mother in Virginia. We sat next to the security line at Reagan National airport hugging each other with tears streaming down our cheeks because neither of us wanted to say goodbye.
Before we even got there, I had mistakenly informed my mother that my flight was going out of Dulles, and we had to race from one airport to the next to ensure I made it in time (all the while I sat in the car praying that we wouldn’t and feeling ashamed of myself, but I knew that I had to go back and make one last-ditch effort to salvage the relationship I was in at the time).
Such is the life of a person with dual citizenship. We’re never quite home in either place, never quite happy to be leaving or arriving, and nevertheless, here we are. Nevertheless, here I am.