Learning to be an adult is hard. When we graduate from college, we are thrust into a world of navigating bills, appliances, and other life skills that come with moving into a new apartment or house. This usually means for me, calling my parents to ask, “How do I actually pay a bill?” or “How long does chicken stay good for?” They love to make fun of my ineptness, but in reality, these are skills we have learn as we make the transition into what is jokingly referred to as, “The Real World.”
Despite the complexity of that transition, it’s even more difficult to do in another country. Moving to Ireland has added another learning curve, making me feel a little more lost as I embrace adulthood. It makes me ask questions like, “How do I work the dryer?” and “What is the metric system?” It means learning what foods you can and can’t find in the grocery store, leading to awkward moments (like realizing that there are no pre-made pie crusts at the store for your quiche.) It means having to figure out how to acquire an immigration card and a library card and a bus card. This isn’t my first time living abroad, but it is my first time living in an intentional community, my first time living in European suburbia, and my first time living in a house beside my family’s home in Grosse Pointe.
However, the house I am living in is no ordinary house. Our little yellow house is one of the last houses before the suburbs give way to Irish countryside. It’s across the street from a field (which sometimes has cows). What makes it special, however, is that since it was built in 2009, it has only been inhabited by members of House of Brigid.
A few weeks back, Martha, a member of Teach Bhride I, came and visited. She explained how when they arrived, they didn’t even a house to live in, staying instead at our pastor’s house. She told us about how even once they had secured the house, it was broken into and stripped of piping. She also recounted the excitement of moving into the new house, despite there being a hole in one of the walls. It was fun to learn the history of different parts of our house- the comforter on my bed, the furniture in our living room, and the pictures on our walls. Each detail of her story helped remind me of how lucky we were to have the house that we do.
This means that our house is filled with relicts of former inside jokes. Our first days were spent uncovering hilarious and baffling items. In the closet under our stairs, we found a smiling bouncy ball and a broom that looks like it might just fly. Above our fridge, we discovered an envelope labeled “For those cold winter nights…” which contained “Folkemon Card,” which were apparently Pokemon cards based on former Notre Dame Folk Choir members. Our wifi code is “TheGambia,” and while we have an idea of where it came from, we wish we knew the full nuances of the joke. We’ve discovered quote books, plaques of random French quotes, and a very random assortment of DVDs and CDs. All these little trinkets of the past help paint a story of our house- the laughter, the prayers, the adventures. Some of these bizarre items still confuse us, but perhaps that makes them even more endearing.
Most importantly, the history of our house, the items that fill it, they all work to remind me that I am part of something much bigger than myself. While this program is only 8 years old, it has truly been built upon the hopes and dreams of all those who have been a part of Teach Bhrìde. So many people came before me to this house and worked hard to establish a program and then expand it over time. I realize that in every action I take this year, in each way that I serve, I carry along legacy of those who lived here before me. I also inspires me as I wonder what stories I’ll add to the heritage of our house.