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  • Writer's pictureDylan McCormack

Tumbleweeds and Diatribes

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

I have this image of America in my head. It's every cliche in the book. Literally. It's filled with wide expansive roads that seem to reach across the horizon like some arm of God. The grey black asphalt glimmering in the bright sun as the wheels of the mustang I imagine I sit drives on. The landscape is flat and dust ridden. You wouldn't be surprised to see a tumble weed or a cowboy riding off into the distance. Maybe a soft breeze rustles my hair. It's everything Kerouac, the beats and tv wanted me to see.


Now, this isn't a whole, 'damn America' thing. This is a 'damn tv' thing. This is a 'damn books' thing. This is mostly a 'damn me' thing.


Since I was young I had this dream of moving to the States. It was built on top of lies and delusion. Lies that I was sold and deluded myself with believing that what I saw and read was reality. I really doubt I am the only one. Now that I sit here though, in my twenties. No job prospects. Living at home. When I look out the window I see a grey, shaking sky which I am certain will burst like a dam any moment. I'm sad. I'm angry. Mostly though, I'm frustrated. This must have been what past Irish immigrants felt when they left this island at the edge of the world. They looked out and saw the same grey, wet waste and told themselves that it's always greener on the other side. That side was America.


And yet...


And yet, I have no inclination to head to that flat landscape. I have no desire now to head to the supposed 'Land of Opportunity'. My mind retreats from that place like a wounded dog.


When I was younger, I always believed that I was eventually going to live and die in either the great west of great New York (Don't get me wrong, I'd still love to see New York). Would you believe me if I told you that I watched a lot of TV when I was younger? This was the problem I think. TV in Ireland has an obsession with the US. Or it had, I'm not sure now to be honest. Every Saturday I can remember looking forward to the big big movie at half six. Sitting on our comfortable couch. The TV turned up. Behind me, the summer sun could be shining through the windows and I still would find myself sitting on that couch. It would, invariably, be some Hollywood film. Now I tell you, we didn't have cities like they showed on TV. Cities where they seem to be a country all to themselves. Filled with so many people talking and moving. The noise these cities must have made. I could close my eyes now and remember what I thought the sound of the city was like. The world I saw on my TV was filled with sound and colour and people. When I looked out my window I saw farms and cows and the odd person cycling past our house. The contrast couldn't be greater. American movies even made politics interesting to my young mind. Even though I couldn't understand it I found myself enthralled by these people in suits debating their beliefs with gusto and fire. Whenever I caught a glimpse of the Dail, I saw only old men groaning on about something I didn't care about. They even made mass look exciting! Mass! They'd be singing and dancing and just having a party but surrounded by the walls of a church. Then I'd go to mass in out little village and watch an old man mouth and drone and go on incessantly about something I didn't care about. TV made me care so much about this country I had never been to.


And it just kept doing it. I hated Ireland for so long because of my weak little mind when I was growing up. I hated it's weather. I hated it's people. I hated it's politics. I hated its landscape and roads that would go only a mile before running into a stray sheep. I wished to be American. Be in America. Living this dream that they are always on about. What it was, I didn't care. I just wanted it. The perfect little capitalist I must have been.


Now, I wish I knew the exact moment I got over this fantasy. I wish I could tell you it happened fairly early on in my adolescences. Perhaps I could have read a poem or books by one of the many Irish writers that I love now. A John McGahern or Sinead Morrissey. It wasn't. It was such a gradual thing that I didn't really notice until this year. I carried America through my secondary school days into early college. I carried this idea that I could be better and happier somewhere else. I spent so much time thinking I could be happier somewhere else that I didn't even take a moment to ask why I was so unhappy. I still couldn't tell you. However I can tell you that America has no interest for me. I admire certain parts of it but as an institution is is kind of like the Catholic Church. A nice idea, but terribly executed. A place that spouts freedom yet incarcerates millions every year for trivial offences. A place that calls for a better future but hurls poisons emissions into the air.


Now, I'm not saying Ireland doesn't have itS issues. Of course it does. Same problem with environment. Our government is inept at best and corrupt at worst. Direct Provisions is not portrayed nearly enough so that it is a stain more people can notice. Our government hides it and hopes the people don't notice the human rights crimes going on in our own country. It's like we learned nothing from the Mother and Baby homes. Every country has their dark secrets. But what's the point of swapping one for another?


Maybe It's all about identity and accepting where you're from. If not, you could find you wasted so long wishing for something impossible when you could have learnt to find the happiness around you.




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