In case you didn’t know, Ireland can be quite a popular destination for tourists. 😉
And, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’ve gotten quite a few calls from people I know – or used to know – who are coming to visit! There have probably been at least a dozen such friends, and sometimes strangers, who I’ve seen on our shores over the years. I have to laugh sometimes when I hear a friend of a friend of my cousin-in-law’s high school lab partner wants to meet up while they’re “in the country.” I even drag my family into it – and Frank is always the dutiful tour guide around Drogheda and Dublin!
However, it’s been great to catch up with a lot of familiar faces, too, and one of the best visits lately was from a girl I grew up with – my old friend Morgen! I had not seen Morgen in at least 10 years, but when she emailed and told me she’d be coming to Dublin briefly with her husband, I jumped at the chance to reconnect with her. I can’t always meet up with people, you see, with us being without a car and quite busy, but when we can make it work, it’s wonderful.
It’s so funny how time changes people… sometimes you see someone you used to be close to, and there’s no connection left. Just awkward silence, shuffling of feet, nervous smiles. Then, every once in a blue moon, you meet up with an old friend and find that not only have you both changed dramatically, but you’re also still the same, still compatible, still dear.
Morgen is one of the latter.
You see, Morgen and I grew up right smack in the middle of the beginnings of a radical movement – Homeschooling! Our parents shared a passion for strong Christian moral values, Conservative politics and excellence in education, so the next logical step was for them to keep us out of the public school system and teach us at home. To fill the gap of socialization with other kids, we joined history clubs, language groups, math tutoring, sports teams, craft clubs, etc. Morgen and I sat together in Jr. Toastmasters, delivered political literature door-to-door, and celebrated each other’s birthdays every year.
We were nerds.
But we were sort of kid revolutionaries as well, like many homeschooled kids of the 1980s and 90s were.
When I was 10 years old, Morgen and I took English and History classes from a lovely elderly lady schoolteacher, Mrs. Gladys Kauffman. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, we’d meet with 6 or 7 other homeschooled kids in a little classroom set up in her house. Even now I can look back and say we had an amazing teacher who ran a tight ship, yet there was lots of fun and room for creativity. I learned a huge amount about writing from Mrs. Kauffman, and I adored the history projects she assigned. Add to that our morning calisthenics exercise of going down to her front porch, no matter what the weather, and doing at least two rounds of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” for all the neighbourhood to see.
Fast-forward nearly 20 years to the present.
A few weeks back, I met Morgen at the Drogheda train station and as soon as I saw her and we began to talk, it was like no time had passed whatsoever! She’s still the same lovely, bubbly, intelligent friend as ever and we had so much to catch up on! How fun to meet up with her in Ireland, of all places, and have her meet my husband and baby! How cool to show her our town and hear all about her life in Boston! What was really interesting, though, was how much we had both changed since the Old Days, and yet how much we had changed in the same ways. Wow – who would have thought?
So here we are, older, maybe wiser, married and living our separate lives across the Atlantic from each other. She is on the East Coast of America, I am here. We’ve been through college and have pursued careers. We’ve both broadened our views of the world a bit since those days when the small homeschool world in Bozeman was all we knew. Instead of sharing insights on “Adventures in Odyssey,” we now discuss the finer points of “Mad Men.” We’ve both sparked a bit of controversy here and there. Neither of us know if we’ll homeschool our own children or not. Speaking for myself, I’m not as politically active as I was as a child (I know that sounds funny!) or as much of an evangelist – but in its place, I feel a richer, deeper, truer understanding of what I believe, how I want to treat others, and who I am myself. I think Morgen would agree. Thanks to our parents, we’re well-educated and continue to have a thirst for knowledge. And thanks to them, we’re confident, thrifty, independent women who love passionately and live with the hope of making the world a better place.
Maybe we’re not so far away from our beginnings, after all. 🙂