St. Patrick’s Day.
If you told me a few years ago that you celebrated,
I’d think you meant:
You dressed in green from head to toe
and drank green beer in the daylight.
I might have been down;
Once, I let my best friend,
a drag queen,
paint my lips to mimic
the Irish flag.
The next year,
another, red-haired friend and I,
we made our own shepherd’s pie
and washed it down with Guinness
as she introduced me to Game of Thrones.
(I was horrified).
My 5th and final year in college
(my chance to study abroad,
to complete my Spanish major),
I lived in Madrid, Spain.
On the 17th, a friend and I went to a pub.
One beer later, we went home.
A few weeks later,
we traveled to Ireland.
I didn’t know I was homesick
until I arrived on Irish soil.
In Dublin, we stayed in a hostel.
The next morning, bright and early,
we hopped a bus to Galway,
then the Cliffs of Moher.
As I walked the cobblestone streets
in the gloom of a rainy day,
I felt refreshed
for the first time in months.
Was it the English language
finding its way back to me again?
Was it the friendly, small town faces,
the bus ride into the countryside,
the fish and chips, meat and potatoes,
the familiar ratio of bars to churches,
and green, green everywhere, vibrant
even through the rain-speckled windows?
It reminded me of my home,
of my childhood car rides
to my parents’ church,
out in the countryside.
I listened to music I’d claimed as my religion in middle school
as the busses took us from place to place,
across the country in a day
as I dreamed of whiskey, waitressing, summers at home.
These days, when I see
the tacky green face paint,
the lime green tutus,
what this St. Patrick’s Day celebrates,
was my reawakening,
a spiritual experience
when I needed it most.
no green beer for me.
I’ll stay in.
Prepare a shepherd’s pie
and raise my Guinness
to the Ireland
that caught my heart.