After 30 years in Boston, I’ve finally stopped searching job ads in Ireland
After my parents died, the tie was broken. My life and family are American now
Sean Rogers with his family in Cambridge, Massachusetts: ‘It’s been two years now since my last trip home and the pull has gone.’
Bostonians seem to abandon the city in late August. It is the only month of the year I can drive downtown and not get snarled up in traffic driving along Storrow Drive, which separates Boston from Cambridge. The city feels empty, except for tourists clogging the sidewalks, and strolling at a snail’s pace along narrow brick streets.
I had to get my son Henry to French camp by 9am, so we jumped into the street to bypass a mob of children and tour guides. After 30 years in Boston, I know the traffic patterns well.
“He’s Irish, Dad – he’s just moved over here from Dublin – but he sounds English?”
“Well there are many Irish accents … maybe he just sounds English to you?”
“No Dad, he’s English. You know I’m good at accents.”
“He could be from south Dublin or his parents could be English?”
I go into the differences between north and south Dublin, but decide not to direct him immediately to the Ross O’Carroll-Kelly columns.
“But Dad, he doesn’t say ‘me spoon’ or ‘me hat’?”
Explaining the many different Irish and English accents to a stubborn 12-year-old, who takes “YouTube” Irish as the definitive Irish, is harder than you might think.
Dropping Henry off in Boston’s Back Bay allows me time to stroll home through the Boston Public Garden, established in 1837. I’ve often rushed through this beautiful green space in the heart of the city, on my way to somewhere else, but never with a few minutes to spare and time to reflect. I sit down under a large weeping willow and take in the beginnings of a steamy Boston morning.
Swan Boats are moving slowly under pedal power across the lagoon, and I hear a group of Irish students chatting. On this late summer’s day, they must be thinking about the return home after their J1 experience, just as I was contemplating my return in the late summer of 1983.
The excitement of going home was palpable over those final few days. Tickets checked and checked again, college thesis finalised and $2,000 in my back pocket, my American mission was accomplished. Memories had been made and bucket list checked: photos taken on top of the World Trade Centre, at the Statue of Liberty and in Times Square. Returning to the States again was never an option I considered then. Having American children was beyond the pale.
The iPhone in my pocket buzzes.
“Dad, I’m the oldest here.”
“Don’t worry, it’s only for two weeks.”
Dad, you’re not listening – I’m the oldest here.”
“Ok, we can change to rock climbing for the final week of summer.”
Time has moved on and my Mum and Dad are both gone now. I heard her say in those last days that they had a good life – a realisation that their time was near. I was lucky enough to spend a few long weekends in Ireland caring for them before they left.
I told her I loved her over the phone from Massachusetts, and that I’d see her soon. We were not a family to say such things, but I heard her tell the carer what I said.
“He loves me you know, he just told me.”
I realised this week that I no longer want to open the Executive Jobs section in The Irish Times. I used to check the Irish job ads frequently, but in all these years, I never applied for any position. It was a habit, a comfort. A link to somewhere else. There’s no need anymore.
Last trip home
It’s been two years now since my last trip home and the pull has gone. It’s a scary thing when it happens; it was unexpected. No more running through the airport for my duty-free purchases and the cigs for mum. No more welcomes in the wee hours of the morning and drives past the Harp Brewery in Dundalk; no more “what time did you leave at” and “how many were on the flight” questions.
The iPhone goes again. “Dad, you forgot my lunch.”
“Ok, I’ll drop by with it.”
“Dad, don’t forget and stop daydreaming .”
“I will – don’t worry Henry. On my way.”