Google is great, isn't it? I mean to say if you happen to be in bed, laid low by a bad flu and you are not much in the mood for reading because your mind is hopping around in a state of delerium from all the paracetamol you've piled into yourself, you can always press buttons on your laptop and float around Google for a few hours. I don't know why but I wanted to try and find out the weather in the city of Cork, Ireland on the day I was born. Nothing came up. Then I googled news of what happened on the day and again, nothing! I gave up after an advertisement exploded onto the screen offering to tell me if I paid forty euro for the honour. No thanks.
I can therefore surmise that on the day I was born nothing much happened at all. Which is probably a good thing because I am sure my mother had enough to think about and besides, I am also confident that my father had to go to work as he always did, on his bicycle and earn the money to feed us all. There was no big deal with baby showers and video tapes and champagne. I can guarantee that. No, my entry into the world came on a quiet day in Cork city without any fanfare although I do recall my mother recounting over the years the words of the doctor who assisted me into the world, as something on the lines that I, Mary P. McCarthy, 'was the most beautiful baby' he had ever delivered in his entire career! It was not until years later, when I had my own children that I came to the conclusion that most doctors worth their salt are prone to make these memorable statements.
Not a million years ago but long enough ago for it to seem so I took my mother back to Cork to retrace the broken map we had left behind. Unfortunately there was not much left to remind us. The map was not legible, the years had cracked the yellowed streets with erratic, meaningless lines. Jagged corners ran into cul-de-sacs.
My mother's sister was living in a nursing home and the visit was filled with sadness and tears as my Aunt did not know or remember either of us. I then drove my mother to her childhood house only to find that it was in the process of being demolished. The Celtic Tiger took care of that, our history lost even in the buildings. I took a photograph of Mum standing outside on the street where her home used to be and where the crooked blue cobalt walls and torn wallpaper of the living room were the only reminders that a family had once lived within the crumbling stone. I remember my mother trying to smile, desperately attempting to put on a brave gay face, but I knew she was heartbroken. She never looked back.
It is not easy or perhaps the right thing to do to go back to where you came from. Does it really actually make any difference to who or what you've become? When people ask me where I come from, my response is that I come from everywhere. And I believe this to be true. I liken my life to a stew, a good stew at that, filled with many ingredients and inspirations. As my mother used to say, a good stew is a little of everything and not too much of anything.
I decided a long time ago to never look back until Google told me that nothing happened the day I was born and so what, big deal, life just keeps on going regardless, just as it always did. One year as good or bad as the next one. One more crooked line that eventually leads us nowhere.