Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A book of migrations: some passages in Ireland

These days my travel is all on screen or page, in the breif evenings after work, usually on the sofa in my Sydney apartment. The title of this post is that of a library book I found while looking for something else (I love that about library shelves of the old-fashioned kind, shelves you can browse. My current library stores most of its collection in a vault with a robotic retrieval system thats away all the fun of random discovery). This is a book by Rebecca Solint, an American who became an Irish citizen in 1986, lived there for ten years, then returned to write a rumination on, as she says, "the ebb and flow of populations that constitutes invasion, exile, colonisation, emigration, tourism and nomadism." And also home, identity, and the "psychic experiment" that is travel itself.

"Here, most often, is nothing more than the best perspective from which to contemplate there", she writes. The quote that opens her book is from Basho 'Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.'

Here I am, at home, in a city that has never felt welcoming or knowable, on the trail of my own Irish passport, and contemplating my next round of adventures from the lulling comfort of the sofa.

"Ireland delighted me by offering so many stories and circumstances in which individuals and populations were fluid rather than ossfied," she writes, and I thrill to the idea that perhaps this explains everything, my restlesness and endless yearning to be somewhere else. Maybe I am Irish, too.

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