Traveling Abroad (Four) — May, 2013

There’s something inherently sad about the demise of a dream, whether it blows up or just fizzles into nothingness.

We Americans tend to think we corner the market on dreams.

That anything is possible, if we’ll just buckle down, persevere, hang tough.

There are reams of quotes to that effect.

But sometimes, things happen that are unplanned. Unforeseen.

And dreams, once held so tightly, shatter.

Not necessarily becoming nightmares, but close.

Our trip abroad was like that for me.

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, but perhaps we should have done a better job pre-planning. Securing visitor brochures, booking hotels, familiarizing ourselves with transportation and food and the monetary system.

Perhaps Domer and I are too cheap to be world travelers. Or too solidly ingrained in home and routine.

Perhaps this was the wrong time for a trip. Too soon on the heels of commencement.

Perhaps we should have signed up for a group tour.

(Nah, we’re too independent for that!)

If it’d been me by myself, I’d have stuck it out. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

No way would I readily admit failure. Defeat.

But this was Domer’s trip, and he was miserable. So I did what any parent would have done — whatever it took to make him un-miserable.

That meant swallowing my pride, shelling out a small fortune in cancellations and penalties, and accepting responsibility for the mistake.

But I can’t think of it as a mistake.

After all, we did see some beautiful countryside, we passed interesting-looking museums, and — short though it was — I was actually on Irish soil!

Nor did it rain all the time; in fact, we only got the briefest of mists our first day.

I haven’t lost a deep kinship with Ireland, the country of some of my forbears, either. And one day I hope to return — wiser and more organized.

Domer looks at me like I sprouted a pineapple on my head when I say that. Fine, let him grumble that our trip sucked, big time.

I disagree.

We came back with a new appreciation for our homeland. For Wal Mart, green beans, fruit salads, hamburgers, ice in drinks.

We understood what Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz — “There’s no place like home.”

And we realized it’s a whole lot different being Irish-American than being Irish.

That, despite our our disparities, our aggravations and frustrations, the people of the USA — with their core beliefs in Freedom, Equality, Dignity, and Liberty — are strong and independent.

That our competitive spirit, free enterprise system, and a persistent belief in the goodness of mankind are valuable and honorable things.

That dreams — and the possibility of making one’s dreams come true — are worth holding onto.

And those are lessons every American needs to learn!