The light is yellow tonight as I walk up the hill toward our little neighbourhood grocery. Ireland is the only place I’ve ever been where the streetlights cast an egg-yolk-yellow glow, bathing everything the light reaches in sepia tones. It’s cold as I puff up the hill and I know I’ll be glad to return to our blazing coal fire, but for now it’s good to feel the fresh air on my face.
I pass a few people on the streets, some in track suits and sweats, buying beers for a night in, and others dressed to the nines for a night on the town. I can see the pubs and clubs of Drogheda are in for another bustling weekend. I don’t actually feel like I’m missing out on anything there. I avoid a group of rowdy teenage boys as I near the shop and I dodge the usual debris – empty beer cans, a losing scratch card, a crumpled cigarette box. Inside, the shop is warm and full of people even though it’s nearly 8 p.m.
I gather the necessary milk and I find myself lingering in front of a can of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate. I know I shouldn’t splurge – we have perfectly good Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate at home. But it’s something about the familiar American can with it’s cheery mountains and soft blue hues that makes me hesitate. That, and the fact that it’s instant so I don’t need to risk the wrath of my lactose intolerant tummy when I drink it. I pick up the can and, while I’m at it, I splurge as well on a small bag of mini marshmallows. Good grief, if I only knew what those stupid marshmallows would cost when I got all the way up to the counter, I would have left them to sit and get stale all alone on the shelf! But I will enjoy the little luxury, no denying.
I bag up my purchases in my faithful Trader Joe’s canvas bag and head home. The smell of the Chinese Takeaway hits me as I come around the corner – must be a big night for curry chips, too. I’m instantly glad I made a pumpkin, bacon and sage risotto tonight, which was much more comforting than the local fast food. (Though I’m not adverse to a sneaky curry myself every few weeks…) Nearly home now, but I slow down a bit and lose myself in thought.
It’s hard to believe this will be my seventh Christmas in Drogheda. I came here as such a naive, often ignorant, young American woman. I’ve thought about that a lot in the last weeks as I sent my absentee ballot back to the States. The last presidential election took place the week we were married and our guests were pretty equally split with delight/dismay over the outcome. I don’t remember much besides that. This time, I took extreme care in looking up all the candidates on my ballot, comparing notes on Project Vote Smart and other web sites and really considering the issues. I am not an extremely politically minded person – I cringe over debates and mudslinging and all that. My parents were always ultra involved in political campaigns when I was a kid (they still are), and while I have a lot of respect for their passion, I steer clear of the dissent and scandal of it all. Still, I have to admit, since moving to Ireland and getting a broader view of Europe and the world in general, I have come to care about certain issues a lot more than I used to. When I was voting this time around, I was really looking into candidates political stances on economy/job creation, immigration, foreign policy, civil liberties, health care and the environment/energy issues. I think before I just looked to see who would most likely raise taxes! Anyway, it will be interesting to see who wins, and I’m not one of those who believes the world as we know it will end if the candidate I voted for doesn’t get in. I know the wheels of America will keep on turning, maybe with a bit of rust or muck or even too much oil, but the sun will rise and set all the same.
I guess I’ve spent some time growing up in Ireland. Getting married, having a baby, yes, but also having to think about bigger, more complicated things than just myself. And I now have to make decisions based on my actual knowledge, not just internal rhetoric.
I’ve turned the key in our front door and Georgie nearly knocks me over with her paws and kisses. The glow inside our house is much friendlier than the street lights and I set my bags down with a sigh. Time to get Evey up to bed now, and then TV by the fire with Frank. It’s nice to enjoy the end of the day together and relax… but I’m not sharing my hot chocolate and marshmallows. 🙂 I’m not THAT grown up.