Dear Kentucky Lake,
You mean so much to me, really you do. Though, I have to tell you that I have found some new waters to love. You will always be my Kentucky lake, but I also love the ocean next to Dingle Port. A little migration has taken me far, but I will be back soon.
Monarch butterflies migrate from Canada to Mexico every year. Often, I have wondered why they would not just pick one warm place and stay there. Perhaps, they know that there is something special about the journey.
This day the sun is out, reflected back by the dancing ripples below my feet. There are spots to sit on the port with a fishy smell wafting through the air, but not this spot. This spot is peaceful, a quintessential port experience. The ocean moves five feet below, gently lapping the algae covered concrete. On one side of the port there is a row of small, pastel houses, and on another side are boats bobbing with the waves, waiting for their captains. A soft breeze lifts from the water and tussles my hair while the sun kisses my skin and illuminates the green grasses on the mini-mountains across the water.
I could live forever in this moment, just watching the sea and feeling the wind.
To think I would have never made it to this spot without my new friend Richard. “I forgot, I have a meeting tomorrow in Dingle so I cannot bring you on another tour of the national park, but would you like to come to Dingle with me?” His Irish accent is thick.
He had promised to bring me a tea cup if I came again the next day on one of his tours of Killarney National park, but he had a meeting in Dingle about preserving the Gaelic language. I decided to tag along and get a tour of the most western part of Europe: Dingle, Ireland.
So, we went with Rua, his beautiful dog, and he gave me a tour of the ocean side.
My most favorite part was meeting the sweet eighty-year-old. “You are going where no Kentucky girl has ever gone before,” Richard said as we traveled deeper into the tall grass in the country side. As he went in to visit her, I sat in the car eating crisps with Rua, then they both came out to greet me.
I stepped out of the car to meet them. She took my hand and kissed my cheek. “Cailín álainn, is deas liom bualadh leat,” she said to me as she held my hand. She was speaking Irish and I wasn’t sure what she had said, so I just stood there and smiled. After a pause Richard translated, “Beautiful girl, it is nice to meet you.” She asked me a few more questions.
“Are you traveling alone?”
“Yes,” I said with a quiet smile.
“Wow, brave girl.” When she spoke her eyes glistened and the hospitality coming from her lips was inspiring.
“When are you going back?” She asked me, referring to Kentucky.
“Tomorrow, I am going back to Edinburgh for two weeks, then back home.”
When I finished speaking Richard hugged me and said, “I won’t let her go back.” Then I felt an overwhelming sense of acceptance come over me. The country I was in started to feel more like a home.
When he talked about his country you could get a good sense of just how much he loved it. He knows Killarney like the back of his hand and is passionate about preserving the use of Gaelic, a quite pretty and traditional Irish language. As I stare at the ocean line before me now, I know he has good reason to love this land and this country. Richard’s love for his homeland was rubbing off on me.
The water looks so inviting. I am tempted to just jump in. That is when it hit me, how far away I really was from the place I call home. How long would it take me to swim across “the pond”?
Just like the Monarchs I have traveled a long way. Though Ireland is green and gripping, I will be back in Kentucky soon. The people I love are there under the blue moon and rolling hills. However, I still need to be in Ireland, to take the migration path because without it I would not grow. Along the migration path are dogs named Rua, peaceful ports, and eighty-year-old Gaelic speaking women. I love those moments just the same as I love home because now they are woven into the fabric of my existence, shaping just who I am becoming.
Travel is wonderful. It has helped me grow, but it is when you are back home that you think about the way it changes you. Then, all your searching comes to a halt as you acclimate back to the place you took your first steps. Millions of steps later you have walked on foreign land and it grows a new love for your home and all of the places you have been. Maybe you won’t make a trek from Canada to Mexico every year like the Monarchs, but a simple stroll in an unknown town will do. Just go, then come back, and then go again.
So, Kentucky lake, it may be hard for you to travel, but pay attention to the feet that wade in your waters. Examine where they have gone and encourage them to go farther.
Slán (Goodbye in Irish)
Forever your Kentucky girl,