Her bachelorette days expired
As she vowed to the man she admired
They’d stay together
Through all kinds of weather
And accept how the other was wired
Here I am, posted up in a laid-back cafe in Limerick, thinking about this whole “getting married and moving to Ireland” thing we’ve done. It’s been three months since we landed on the Isle of Saints and Scholars. (You realize that since Joe’s attending UL, that would make me the Saint, right?) So many changes to adjust to. New jobs, friends, pace of life, apartment, currency, measurement system, side of the road to drive down. Can openers work differently. Cilantro is called coriander. Dogs take themselves for walks. One thing I’m not having to adjust to is the weather- it rains most of the time, just like it does in the Emerald City.
Leaping to Ireland following our wedding has been an incredibly satisfying experience. With a new country to explore and free time to spend with each other, it’s like an extended-honeymoon! And the challenges we face while learning to adjust to all of it brings us closer. Oh, I’ve had my homesick moments- because the bathroom faucets disperse hot and cold water separately, and all I wanted to do was wash my face without having to strategically cup cold, then some hot, water to get the right combination without burning myself. Or because I miss the comfort of being with family and friends who know the real me- the woman who quotes Disney movies and SNL skits on a regular basis, pours everything into teaching and family, runs multiple laps around Greenlake, and occasionally eats popcorn for dinner. Luckily, Joe is here to share in the discomfort, and reminds me to enjoy the newness.
Back when we were engaged, I learned the meaning of a paradox: (No, I didn’t become so stressed-out from planning the wedding that it took two doctors to cure me…ahaha) A paradox is a claim that two apparently contradictory ideas are true. In the words of Irish poet Oscar Wilde, “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” As I was preparing to let go of single-hood and merge my life with Joe’s, I kept this in mind and found it helpful. Because the truth is, being a 30 year old independent woman, the thought of giving up certain freedoms I had been accustomed to (shopping for useless crap and not having to explain any of it, sprawling out over the entire mattress at night) left me feeling nostalgic. Understanding life’s paradox allowed me to feel sad about leaving my single life behind, and at the same time happy that I would get to spend my future life with Joe- and to let it be. Although those feelings may contradict themselves, they are both true. This makes me wonder about the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” I mean, I realize there are different shades of green, but I doubt any of them are “greener” than the others anyway. That said, I don’t think the grass could be much greener than it is right here in Ireland…
So now that I’ve welcomed this paradox-mentality, I understand that I am half of a marriage, and at the exact same time, my whole individual self. Here I am in Ireland, supporting my husband’s PhD studies, career-free with an open road in front of me. What the heck am I supposed to do? (I think of Julia Child, when she and her husband Paul moved to France, saying in her squirrelly voice, “But what will I do?”) Another paradox presents itself: While I enjoy spending time more freely without being attached to a career, I also feel antsy not having a purpose that is defined by my job. Last year, a colleague of mine kindly warned me that it may be disorienting to leave the teaching profession because in so many ways, it defines who were are. She is so right, it is disorienting. And it is also freeing. I loved being a Special-Education Kindergarten teacher; I don’t regret the last six years of it one bit and may return to it someday. But for now, I am fortunate to have this time to re-gain energy and enthusiasm, which I was quickly becoming drained of due to the demands of the job (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just go volunteer on a Kindergarten field trip and hang out with the teacher until she goes home that evening, you’ll get it). Anyway, I have come to understand that my purpose is actually to chill out and experience more joy each day. Julia Child found joy in French cooking. I am finding joy in Irish writing, among other things…
My greatest accomplishment these past few months has been re-learning how to relax, unwind, rest, take it easy, slow down, let go, kick back, chill out. Like sleep until 11, go for coffee and chat the afternoon away, read novels, swim laps without it being a workout, experiment in the kitchen, sip tea and eat cheesecake savoring every bite, sit on park bench just to feel the sun and listen to the birds, practice yoga in the middle of the living room when the mood strikes, go for evening walks- and do all of those things without feeling guilty that I’m not working my butt off to accomplish something or check an item off a list. I am beginning to notice the benefits of slowing down and welcoming life’s wonders, i.e. emotional stability and supple neck muscles. And since I embrace this paradoxical life full of relaxation and at the same time, productivity- I’ve begun teaching private English lessons, taught my first Zumba class, and will be volunteering at a care center. For much of January, you’d have found me perched at a PC in the UL library working on that Pro-Teach Portfolio which was finally submitted! I registered and am training for the Great Limerick Run, a half-marathon that will pass through Limerick City on May 5th. And I am writing- working on that children’s book that took a line on my list of New Year’s Resolutions.
Fortunately, I chose to marry someone who understands life’s paradox(en?) probably better than I do. While he thoroughly enjoys my home-cooked dinners, Joe is my biggest supporter in discovering what it is I truly enjoy doing. He also inspires me as he quite naturally balances doing things for me, and for himself too. While I know that he expects both of us to be active in our marriage together: managing finances, planning travel, calling out at each other to avoid dog poop on the sidewalk- he also encourages me to lead the life I believe I am called to live. I realize more every day, that I did a fine job choosing a companion. I adore waking up to him each morning, and at the same time, I dislike that he takes up more than his half of the damn mattress. Oh well, life’s a paradox. And I am living in WEreland!