“Home is where the heart is” so we’re told – and so I’ve come to believe…
During the best part of the last year I’ve roamed the seas and oceans in a sailing boat with my husband and dogs. Home has been a Southerly 42 and the companionship of the man I love and my pets. But I pined for my friends and family elsewhere and missed my daughter and pals in Bristol. After the loss of my mother in Ireland, and the finding of my adopted daughter, I felt a powerful longing to be in the place I’ve thought of as ‘home’ since I was a child – Ireland. My two eldest brothers were born in Limerick, where my parents and grandparents hailed from, but as a result of my father’s move to Birmingham shortly after the boys birth, my mother followed, and I was born there instead. As I grew and made frequent journeys with my family back to Ireland, I began to understand the meaning of kinship or ‘clan’. In England, we had few relatives to speak of, but in Ireland, we were part of a whole mob of children and adults that we belonged to. When we returned to our English home, I felt sad and estranged. Maybe some of my childhood identification with aliens, or native americans, stemmed from that feeling of being disconnected from the people and place where you truly feel at ‘home’.
Here in Ireland at last, along with my intrepid travelling collie dog Bonny, (who is on a mission to be the most hugged dog in the world) I have spent time with old friends, made some new ones, and shared my love of writing and singing with friends and strangers alike. Going ‘back to the Green’ refreshes parts of me that other places just can’t reach! Soon I’ll be in Limerick again to celebrate my cousin’s 25th wedding anniversary, surrounded by a whole clan of Kellys, including daughters Eve and Jo and my big brother Chris. Just the thought makes me smile…
After a relaxing (and marathon talking) few days with my aunt and cousins in Killarney, I made my way to Dublin where my lovely daughter, Eve joined me for a fantastic night out at the 3Arena to see the cast of Nashville in concert (sold out back in the UK). We made a dash to see wonderful Jo and family before Eve had to get back to work in Bristol and I had to (literally) put on my singing hat and head for the Winding Stair, one of the oldest surviving independent bookshops in Dublin. (I had to laugh when Eve sent a message saying her taxi driver to the airport told her she’d surely have ‘no trouble bagging a man’!)
Tuesday the 21st of June fell just after the summer solstice and definitely had a festive and celebratory air. What a glorious time and place to launch Laura’s List, my novel that casts Ireland, home and family in just as important a role as any of the main characters in the book.
The launch party was great fun: I sang songs of my own that introduced some of the themes in the novel and met with friends, family and many visitors from all over the world; we drank, we laughed, exchanged stories; I forgot to take email addresses and almost forgot to do a reading from the novel – but sold quite a few books! A spontaneous set of songs by Eamon while I signed copies of the book added even more enjoyment to the evening, as did the drinks and pizzas afterwards. (Next day back at Jo’s house, we discovered family pooch Dusty had made a fair attempt at eating that singing hat!)
So, now that I’ve spent some time back in my house in Bristol, enjoyed the company of my daughter and friends and have made several trips to Ireland – to visit my mother’s grave, to spend quality time with Jo and family and to launch my book – I’m beginning to
pine quite strongly for the other place I call home: Martin, my husband. Our 8th wedding anniversary on May 31st was the first one we’ve ever spent apart, but thanks to the joys of the internet we managed to send gifts and Skype a celebratory toast to one another. While I have been following my troubled heart on its journey to some semblance of peace, Martin has been sailing on – from the Caribbean to Bermuda and now in mainland America. In a few short weeks I will rejoin him in Washington to fulfil a strong ambition to sail into New York, in our own boat. Wish us luck…
I like to believe we never stop learning, or that we should certainly try our best not to. In a few days I’ll be hosting my first ‘homestay’ students, Marta and Elena from Spain and helping them to improve their English following my TEFL qualification last year. It’s an extension of all the teaching I’ve done over the years, but still a different challenge from what has passed before, and a new experience for me.
It’s taken me a long, long time, but I’ve recently realised an important truth about myself, which I think is summed up very neatly in this little poem that popped into my head recently:
“How absurd to discover, under the cover of my gadabout wings
Beats the heart of a homing bird.” DM Kelly