Today, Mountaineering Man and I will board a plane for our one-way journey to America, capping off two weeks of leaving parties and farewell drinks and goodbye hugs and well wishes.

To say Ireland has been good to me would be an understatement. I came here six-and-a-half years ago from Los Angeles, where I had a close-knit group of friends, my family within driving distance to my condo and a job that had me interviewing celebrities on the red carpet. But there was a growing sense of loneliness that I just couldn’t shake, leaving me feeling disillusioned and weary.

Perhaps it was a long-ago heartbreak that never really healed, or one too many flaky “let’s have lunch” invitations that never materialized or the hours upon hours I – like most people in this traffic-clogged city – spent in my car. LA was wearing me down, and no matter how many dinner parties or new hairstyles or glasses of Pinot Grigio I had, nothing changed, not really. And I was desperate for change – something, anything.  I reasoned that moving to a new country would be such a massive shift in my reality that it would effectively force change in every other aspect of my life. It had to.


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After six-and-a-half years, dozens of new friends, two jobs, hundreds of kilometers of exploration around this island and one Irish husband, I am moving back to America.

In a few weeks, said husband (you used to know him as Mountaineering Man in the early days but his real name is Cormac) and I will be saying farewell to Ireland. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for all that this little green island has done for me – I feel like a different person to who I was when I landed back in March 2010.

cor2And for that reason, the move will be bittersweet. It’s hard to believe how much has happened since my first blog post from Ireland, where I wrote about discovering a proper fry-up, the Irish obsession with tea and their penchant for tardiness. I remember writing about my first car (Peugot 206) and learning to drive on the opposite side of the road AND car; trying desperately to understand the Irish accent; my first real bout of insecurity about the move; introducing you, the readers, to Mountaineering Man; and marrying him. And a million things in between and since – there’s just too much to share in one post.

So for the next few weeks, I’m dedicating my blog to a special series of farewell posts that will highlight some of the best moments, people, places and things about my time in this beautiful country. I hope you’ll join me for this final farewell!

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Considering that we’ve been together for over a year and are living together, I suppose it’s odd that my family hadn’t met Mountaineering Man before a few weeks ago.

But that’s one of the downsides of living abroad, thousands of miles away from my parents, sister Anne, brother-in-law Juan and best friends. Though I’d kept everyone informed via emails and phone conversations, it’s always only half the story because despite Facebook photo albums and blog posts there’s no way to convey the whole truth about someone or something – especially one that is particularly significant. And because I’m immersed in my life here, I often forget that no matter how much I’ve shared with everyone back in LA they’re still not getting the full picture of MM.

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Before we left on the big trip, MM took a fair bit of ribbing from his mates. As my father is a Vietnam veteran, his buddy Joe kept making “Meet the Parents” references and joking that my father was going to be keeping an eye on MM’s every move. Despite all the teasing, he was eager to meet my family and as we pulled up to my parents’ house he seemed relaxed and ready to Meet the Kleinedlers!

For the first half of the LA trip, we stayed at my folks’ house and within 10 minutes of walking in the door my mom had the photo albums out and was showing MM my baby pictures and telling childhood stories. Later that night we gathered at Z’s sushi, the place where my family goes nearly every other week for dinner. When I lived in LA, I knew if I went to Z’s on a Friday night, there’d be a good chance my sister and her husband or my parents or all four would be there, sitting at the corner of the sushi bar and bantering with Toshi the sushi chef. It’s just our place and has been for years.



Our menu for the evening, a la chef Imen!

It was bound to happen: Normalcy has set into my life here in Ireland. I know my way around town, I have favorite restaurants and pubs and I rarely go to the gym I joined a few months ago (if that’s not a sign of being settled I don’t know what is). Gone are the days of getting hopelessly lost on the way to the gas station and having to ask grocery store clerks to educate me on the difference between rashers and streaky bacon. I know that Come Dine with Me, my favorite show on television, reruns all five episodes on Sunday afternoons, and that if I don’t have a 1 Euro coin for the shopping cart I can use a 20-cent coin as it’s exactly the same size. In a nutshell, I’ve assimilated and life has become somewhat routine.

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Richard, the Irish farmer himself, and Imen; Corey and Liam of Irish Fireside.