'It's difficult to emigrate, but moving home is harder'
I never intended to stay away from Ireland for so long. I don’t think most emigrants do when they first take flight.
After 30 years abroad, I’m packing my life into boxes in Boston. I’ve just closed the sale on an apartment in Carrickmines three miles from where I grew up, my cat Danny Boy has his shots, our flights are booked for next month, and in my mind I’m almost home.
The decision to move back was not an impulsive one. It took years to germinate, and by now, although I’m scared, I have faith I am doing the right thing.
I was 23 in 1983 when the Jordanian national airline came to Dublin to recruit Irish air hostesses. I couldn’t pinpoint Jordan on a map but it sounded exotic, and I was young and bored with Dublin. I went to the interviews with a friend and we were offered jobs that same day.
Within a year, I had been seconded to the Royal Jordanian Air Force to fly with the royal family. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, which took me all over the world for six wonderful years.
It was a difficult decision to leave that jet-setting life behind, but as I reached my 30th birthday I felt ready to settle, and took a job in technology marketing in London. Having lived in the Middle East for most of the 1980s it was quite a culture shock to be working in the heart of such a cosmopolitan city, but life was frenetic and fun, and much more free than my lifestyle had been in Jordan.
London was my home for nearly 16 years, interrupted only by a six-month stint in South Africa with my now ex-husband. With a painful divorce still fresh, I had no hesitation in accepting a transfer to Boston in 2006 with the start-up technology company I was working for. Workwise, there are incredible opportunities in the US, and I have made some very close friends here. The seasons are beautifully distinct, and the predictable weather means it is possible to plan a ski trip in winter or a day on the beach in the summer without having to bring a brolly.
But with no children or immediate family, I have felt quite alone. I miss the craic at home, the sense of humour, the people, the culture – I have never found the likes of it anywhere else. From the minute I step off the aircraft in Dublin Airport I hear it and feel it. Leaving after trips home has become more and more difficult as the years have slipped by.
I listen to Irish radio and read The Irish Times online every day, making notes of places mentioned or events that interest me. There is much of Ireland I have never seen, but the internet has helped me to learn more about it and keep up with what has changed since I left; I won’t be coming home to a totally unfamiliar place.