I walked up to the hot foods counter in the food court of Dublin Airport, “can I get, uh, a ‘full Irish breakfast’? But with no toast.”
The beefy looking Swedish guy behind the counter narrowed his eyes in curiosity, “where’re you from?”
“Oh, Philadelphia, the US”
“Nice, ya meet people from all kinds of places working this job”
That was my first experience with a person right before eating my first meal on my first trip out of the US. I’d always wanted to travel abroad but until college I never got the chance. Then in my freshman year I became aware of the Dublin + Amman Peace and Conflict program. It was perfect. I was Irish American, going to Dublin would be like stepping back in time. And the Middle East? Here was a region that had defined US politics my entire life, and I’d get to see it first hand. So I jammed an application through, and after the longest plane ride I’d ever been on I landed in Ireland.
A seagull flew over a narrow city avenue as a bus drove by underneath. A construction crane swung around beyond silhouetted against the blue sky. That was my first view of Dublin. I walked around in intangible excitement, here was a corner-store, there was a coffee shop, here was a park. But it was all new, they were Irish parks, stores and shops. So while objectively speaking they were nothing more than ordinary, I walked about them in a trance like glee. Soon it wore off, today the corner-store was closed and I couldn’t get one of those sandwiches I’d taken a liking to. The next day it was raining. The next it was boring. But still, there I’d been, Ireland.
My classmates and I got on the plane to Jordan. Night fell as we flew, when we landed all there was to see out the windows of the plane and our bus to the hotel was the light from windows of night owls and the decorative LEDS on Mosque minarets. It wasn’t until I woke up that I could see where I was. Holy shit, I was in the middle east. Out of my hotel I could see middle eastern cars, on the roofs of buildings I could see middle eastern water barrels, in the distance I could see hill after hill of middle eastern apartment complexes. I had that high again, everything was new again, and like before, then it wasn’t. However this time we stayed longer, there were little things that rekindled it again. Like when we went to a museum at Amman’s Citadel and got to see artifacts from every era of human history, or when we visited Petra and saw a city of the dead carved into stone. Magic here, magic there, but less and less.
Everybody gets homesick. Luckily for me it only started to set in hard as the program was wrapping up. It only set in hard as I boarded the plane back to Dublin. I had a layover there before the plane ride home in the morning. In my hotel room that night I laid on my bed motionless, in silence. So much to absorb, so much to process. I’d traveled thousands upon thousands of miles. Thank god I had pictures because there was no way I could remember it all.
That morning I went to the airport right after getting up. I needed breakfast, Dublin airport is modest, but it does have a food court. I walked up to the counter, “high can I get a full Irish breakfast,”
The beefy looking Swedish guy behind the counter narrowed his eyes in curiosity, “I remember you, Philadelphia right?”
Well, I suppose yes.