Returning to the States was a surreal experience, so much so that I half expected to wake up back in Ireland to the sound of rain against the windows. Instead, I was greeted with the muggy feeling that comes with a heat wave and a dry throat from the nearby forest fires. The stark contrast of where I was to what I came home to is what solidified that I was no longer in Ireland.
My departure from Ireland started with a night in the Shannon Court hotel, where I was able to get a bus to the airport early the next morning. My first plane, a six hour flight, was enjoyable if a little sad. The time passed quickly with various movies and games and soon I was in Chicago. Stepping out of the plane, I was assaulted with noise from all the people walking around. It was startling how loud everyone seemed, especially after my quiet morning in the Shannon airport. My next six hour flight was to San Francisco. It was odd flying into San Francisco, and I had found myself focusing on the smog covering the city. While I had stayed in Dublin, while I hadn't noticed it while I was there, there was no smog. The city was mostly clean even though it always had traffic. It made me miss Dublin, its easily accessible city center, and the first hostel I had stayed at when I had first arrived. Leaving San Francisco, It took about an hour and a half to get to the Boise airport, where I had another four hours in a car before getting home. I ended up staying awake for another day, it was already nine in the morning in Ireland, to get rid of my jet lag.
It wasn't until a few days later that things really hit me. While I had started to miss a few things, I still kept expecting to wake up in Ireland one morning and go out to explore whatever town or city I was staying in at the time. I was out on a walk in the late afternoon and it was, of course, absolutely blistering out. The heat was one of the first things to really get to me and I kept hoping that the smoke in the sky would turn to rain clouds. With no relief forthcoming, it hit me that I wasn't going to see something of historical or cultural significance. That my walk was just that, a walk. I wasn't going to go see the Blarney Castle again, or the bullet holes in the Dublin Post Office. I couldn't hop on a train or a bus and go somewhere exciting and new. I couldn't even get on a train or a bus because you can walk from one end of the town to the other in 15 minutes. When I got home, I started realizing little things like how the bread is too small, the cheese and milk aren't fresh enough, the water has a strange aftertaste, my skin is so dry I feel like a lizard, and no matter how much water I drink I'm constantly thirsty.
I keep looking through my pictures and showing my favorites to my family. I'm happy to be home, and even more grateful to have a friend to talk to about our adventures in Ireland. But while I'm sure that this out of place feeling will eventually go away, I can't wait to go back to Ireland and I'm already making plans for my next adventures.