The Old Country: Expectations

I finally did it. I finally got to visit my ancestral homeland. I got to return to the Old Country. Since I was a youth, I have yearned to walk the streets of my forebears and hear the old tongue spoken–to hear “Mangia! Mangia!” as the gondolas float laconically down the river. Then I learned that these things happen in Italy, not Ireland–which is where my very pale and potato-loving kin come from.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of the folks at Groupon, Jen and I were able to take a trip to Ireland at an outrageously discounted rate! The savings were so great, you had to see it to believe it! We had to act fast, because a deal this good wasn’t going to last! So after some hemming and hawing and tax refund calculating, we did indeed act fast.

We wanted the trip to be low key. Jen has the propensity to aggressively sightsee, to use sightseeing as a way to wrestle a vacation into submission, as it were, so on this trip, we wanted to make a conscious effort to just relax and have fun. Consequently, I tried not to go into the trip with too many expectations, to let Ireland be Ireland and wash over me like a refreshing waterfall of Irish Spring liquid gel body wash. After arriving, however, it quickly became clear that I had still unconsciously developed several hopes for the trip.

  1. That I would finally be “home.” That I’d get off the plane and some stout old Irishman would slap me on the back and say, “Fair play to ya, lad! Welcome! Now let’s get y’a pint of Guinness and a tweed flatcap so you can finally relax. And by the way, you’re lookin’ a little tan–you might want to slather on some sunscreen, you might.” I thought I would experience an ineffable connection to people and places as I took in my roots.
  2. That people would be friendly and interesting. That every stranger would enjoy the chance to strike up a conversation and expound upon the intricacies of their life in Ireland. And that they would have troves of interesting and entertaining anecdotes for me to enjoy. Certainly they might not just volunteer this information, but also certainly they would respond readily (and in detail) if I asked, “So how about the intricacies of life in Ireland? How’re those going?”
  3. That everybody at a given restaurant would be enjoying a pint. I wanted to go to lunch and see old men catching up over a lunch beer.
  4. That navigating an unfamiliar place without the aid of GPS, WiFi, or a general skill at navigation would be easy and enjoyable.

In my next post, I’ll let you know how those assumptions worked out.

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