I just finished listening to a new book by David McCullough. The Greater Journey tells the stories of people, some known and some unknown who came to Paris between 1830 and 1900 to study medicine, to paint, to sculpt, and many simply ended up staying and loving the city and its people beyond anything they'd experienced before in their lives. Many remained deeply American, but were changed in so many ways - sometimes severely, and unequivocally.
Travel outside of a home country can be a life changing experience in itself, but from all accounts these sojourns to Paris the, "City of Light," significantly changed the lives and paths of those who went there.
This spring I was given a chance to travel to Ireland and England. I've always wanted to travel and Ireland has been a travel wish of mine for a long time. It was a place of family for me with a history that is both terrible, and beautiful. Its held many names throughout the history of the emerald isle, but today it is simply called Ireland.
For those who left it because of the Potato Famine from 1845 to 1900 to find a new life, it was always called with great reverence the auld sod. When I arrived there on a rainy April 1st, 2011 it was so like coming home. I wish I could describe it better, but the feel was not like a strange and historical place when I landed. It was like I had returned home after traveling a long long time.
I've traveled quite a few places in my life on the North American continent - many places in Canada as well as states within my own country, and it was always fun to go there, but always great to head home after the holiday was over.
In Ireland it was like I was rediscovering a home I left in the past. The beauty of the places, cities, and harbors I visited were like places I knew well before my visit.
Would I go back right now if I could? In a heartbeat! Would I put down roots and stay there? Yes, even if I left family here, I think I would. It wasn't the people, though they were really lovely, nor was it the music or the rough beauty of the landscape and history that called to me. It was a intangible sense of home that made me feel I belonged there, and knew each street, city and town by heart. For me it felt like the auld sod, my own, "old home."