December 12, 2012
Today I finally, fiiiinally began the process of becoming Irish.
12 years ago I studied abroad in Italy. Not only did I gain a broadened world perspective and a love for the Italian language and all things Italy, but I met one of my best friends, Katy, who was also from California. Once the two of us returned to Los Angeles after our semester abroad, we began to dream of ways we could return to live in Europe. She was a lucky duck and had close family members born in Italy, so she was eligible for Italian citizenship. I had no inroads to Italy, but my father had been born in Dublin in the 40s before being adopted by American parents, so I discovered I could get an Irish passport. With the European Union’s flexible borders, it was just as good.
But for some reason, I’ve never followed through on beginning the process. I suppose part of me was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find the missing document necessary for the process, my father’s original birth certificate, and my dream of EU citizenship would be dashed. And perhaps another part of me was afraid of dwelling in the dark and shadowy recesses of the past.
Going through this process is bringing up some deep emotions, old family and ancestral pain. Just looking at my father’s pitifully sad passport photo, issued when he was four so he could come to California, makes my eyes well up with tears. He’s small and pale, his brow furrowed over sad, scared eyes, little mouth frowning. It looks like he’s dressed in a potato sack. When the photo was taken he’d already spent the first four years of his life at the horrific Catholic orphanages during the 40s, where beatings, rape and emotional abuse of children were standard. I can only imagine the abuse he went through that led him to being the angry alcoholic he grew into.
I looked just like him when I was young. I was a bright, precocious, strong-willed, talkative child, and I imagine he was too. Which I’m guessing made him a target for abuse. I got in trouble enough in normal public school in California, and I imagine he didn’t keep a low profile.
My father died almost a year ago, alone, drinking himself to death in a motel in Arizona. I asked him once if he ever wanted to go back to Ireland. “Why would I want to go back to that hell hole?” he snarled. End of conversation.
I haven’t been to Ireland yet. But I’ve always longed to live in green places, which I like to think is some kind of ancestral echo programmed into my DNA. My father’s ashes are still in California; I haven’t been back in the country since his death. Perhaps once I have my citizenship I can take some of his ashes back to Ireland with me, and release the fear and pain that still radiate from the past.
But then I remember Maya. Maya Lila. These lives we’ve lived, these rolls we’ve played, are all just part of the illusion, the game of forgetting we are infinite, divine, creative cosmic consciousness. I do believe this, I just don’t always remember. Part of the game is healing these wounds we incur while playing human. So this is the game I’m playing this lifetime. Seeking healing, wholeness, and joy. I’m making good progress.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin