I’ve put up lots of blog posts involving pictures lately. Sometimes a picture says a thousand words, especially when MS fatigue and asthma are a pain in the proverbial bum.
Rugby is keeping me company this afternoon, and seeing Ireland play Argentina in Dublin on a Flemish television screen is making me yearn for home again. Home is Dublin, in a tiny suburb village close to the County Dublin and Meath border. It has been for the last 10 years now and it was a seamless integration and assimilation into Irish culture and society, and I’m so proud of the way Irish people have welcomed me into their midst without ever questioning my motives for being there.
Please forgive me if I sound rather distasteful, awful or just plain ridiculous. I will understand if you don’t understand how one can feel about their native country the way I do. It’s not that I don’t love my family, I truthfully do and I do so vigorously. I simply feel no connection to Belgian society, and quite often I feel like a stranger in the country I was born in. In fact, for most of my life I’ve felt no palpable connection and for most of my life I wanted to live in Ireland. Of course I feel connected to my family and friends in Flanders, but I would never visit Belgium if it weren’t for them.
I’ve spoken with other Ireland-lovers and some seem to feel the same way I do. They adopted their migrant country and love it as if they were born there. I’ve been called Irish by my Irish friends and in some cases – when it comes to Ireland’s history – they call me even more Irish than some Irish people because I want to stand up and fight for Ireland’s cause. Then again, I’ve learned from traveling around Ireland that it’s time to move on and forget about war and thoughts that would lean towards being a rebel.
Somehow, I’ve no such connection with Belgium. I can never remember who were our past kings and queens, or the history of the royal family as a whole. The only thing I do know is that they use a lot of taxpayers’ money and they do very little for earning such high donations. As a history enthusiast however, I have an interest in the past of my native city which is well-known for the Flemish finally beating the French in 1302 in the Battle of the Golden Spurs. I also love the castle close to my mum’s house where the Counts of Flanders and Dukes of Burgundy, Cleves and Ravensteins used to live in the Middle Ages and I only started being interested in the 2 World Wars in the past 15 years or so because I started being interested in the mind of an evil man, interested in his psychological makeup and way of thinking and how someone can become so evil. Those world wars ravaged my native province and the rest of Belgium and I remember my granny’s wartime stories and the way one evil man could psychologically dominate, harass and bully people into committing even more evil acts against humanity. But other than that, nah… I cannot remember anything and nor do I feel the need to know all about it unless there is a psychological twist which I want to know about.
Sure, I love cities like the medieval cities of Bruges, Ghent or Leuven for its architecture and art, but please don’t send me to Brussels again for exams because I will want to leave before I even get off the train. Been there, done that and I wasn’t impressed with the part of Brussels I had to go to for college exams. I’ve never seen the Brussels Grand Market place and although I really want to see it for its architecture, nope… let’s just say that there are other things I want to know about first. There’s some truth so in the grass always being greener on the other side and it has nothing to do with being high and mighty – which I am absolutely not – I’ve simply always loved other countries’ histories more.
Now drop me off in Ireland and a connection will immediately be established. I feel its history on every street corner, or in every person I see or talk to. I’ve been to Irish museums many times over and read Irish authors and about Ireland in more books than I can count on my fingers, toes and eyelashes. And I love it. I feel connected, I’m at home and right where I should be. I am homesick when I’m not around and I dream of flying back into Dublin Bay, seeing the Mourne Mountains and the Wicklow Mountains in the distance on a clear day, and I dream of the days after I land in Dublin. I dream of talking to Irish people, learning more about its history and listening to .
Somehow I still can’t believe I’m living here 10 years now. Where did all that time go?!? What more can I add to those 10 years? “Perhaps another Irish boyfriend,” I hear my friends and family think!
Would I ever return to Belgium to live here? Of course, if/when one of my family members is in need of looking after. I wouldn’t have to think twice about it but until then… Clonsilla is the place to be.
“Irishness is not primarily a question of birth or blood or language; it is the condition of being involved in the Irish situation, and usually of being mauled by it” (Conor Cruise O’Brien)
© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.