Today I am 11,595 miles from home and for the first time in almost 7 years, it feels like it.
I don’t normally get homesick, because I bring home with me wherever I go.
No, I don’t just mean teabags and Tayto. I mean that feeling of home. The sense of belonging to something bigger than me. The respect for my country and its people, for our achievements and contributions to the world. The inimitable song that plays on my heartstrings when I see the golden harp on my passport. I couldn’t begin to describe how it goes, but I dance to that beat every day, as do millions of others who call the Emerald Isle home.
Yes, for a small nation, we are a great one and I am so proud to be Irish.
But what does it even mean to be Irish, if I can’t be there today? Even if I had had the means to travel home in time for this referendum, it just so happens that I have now been living away for so long that I’m no longer eligible to vote.
So here I sit, thousands of miles away from home, on a monumental day for Ireland. Powerless. Unable to do my part to help the women of my beloved country. Weeping for all those who have suffered because of the 8th, as well as for myself, as I struggle through an identity crisis that I hadn’t truly considered until today; without a vote at home, without a vote in the country I’m currently living in – my voice simply does not count. Anywhere in the world. Today I am nobody. An outsider for what feels like the first time, but I’m sure won’t be the last. To make matters worse, this is all my own doing.
I have never before regretted my decision to leave Ireland, but today it has hit me like a tonne of bricks that I have bought my own tickets to this no mans land. It does seem somewhat ironic, that today I am flooded with feelings of guilt and shame for deciding to leave home and go travelling, when so many women have had no choice but to travel under the weight of those same feelings. When the people who should really be feeling those things are those who let this happen in the first place, those who let it continue for so long.
Today over 3 million people have the opportunity to vote for the future of women in Ireland. I sincerely hope that each and every one of them gets up off their arse to do so.
Unfortunately I can’t be one of them.
Today I am 11,595 miles from home, but it may as well be a million.