As we were leaving for the airport, news of the Las Vegas massacre broke out. Already, Americans uttered thoughts and prayers, while dismissing any need for change. I felt so glad to leave my birthplace, this fucking country, this place I cannot love, for all the trauma it inflicts in the name of so-called American values, despite my love for certain people and things you can only find in America, such as my girlfriends, hummingbirds, and fluffy pancakes.
We left the US in its darkness, and arrived in Dublin at dawn. Despite my expired student visa, the garda smiled at me, waving us on. Welcome back, he said. The bus to Sligo took nearly four hours, as it stopped in every fecking village. T greeted us at the bus station. A cabbie, some aul fella from the town, leaned across the car window, regaling him with some tale I caught only the back of; he was ruddy-faced and draped in gaudy jewelry, and I actually understood his accent. Some mad bastard, said T. On the drive, I marveled at the viridiscent landscape, the farmhouses, the ripples on a lake. B had a full fry ready for us, and she had lit a fire down below, in the house behind my in-laws' house. Home, finally.
When we woke today, hard thick sheets of rain greeted us: typical Ireland, as typical as mass shootings in America, it seems. Funny—I think I had even missed the weather. In my quiet, too-neat house, I note a semi-deflated mylar balloon, birthday and sympathy cards, my dad's baseball cap inscribed with "Khmer Navy". It's been a month, and so much is different, and so much is still the same.