After seventeen hours of travel by bus, plane, train, and automobile; last night I arrived at my house back at New Berlin, Wisconsin. I was welcomed by the open arms of my parents, a loving attack from our dog Daisy, a delicious meal with friends and family, and finally, the comfort of my bed. I have returned home, and it is great to be home.

However, the return to my childhood home comes with leaving the place that I have called home for the past ten months. The church, the town, the halls of Scoil Mhuire primary school, and the house at 206 Cluain Dara in Wexford, also rightfully deserve the label of “home”. In my time in Ireland, I have met people I will love for the rest of my life, I have learned lessons that have changed me as a person, and I have made memories that I will never forget. But interestingly, I don’t feel sad about leaving this home. I feel just as I did when I left Wisconsin ten months ago, and Marquette University fourteen months ago. I am simply continuing my journey.

I will return to Wexford one day. When I do, I will hug the choir members and the tea ladies, I will sing with full voice along with the folk group, I will grab a guitar and a beer to join a true Irish sing-song, I will eat the Chicken Caesar Salad at Cistin Eile, I will buy large piles of clothes from Penney’s, I will walk down the halls of Scoil Mhuire, I will put my feet in the sand at Curracloe, I will walk down Clonard Road in the rain and be collected by a kind stranger, I will call into a friendly Irish home for tea, I will take part in community prayer in the living room of Teach Bhride after doing the dishes, I will have a delicious meal with the Parish team at Fr. Dennis’ house, and I will be home.

Until then, however, I will keep my home in Wexford in my heart and I will pray for it often. Thank you to everyone who has made this year incredible, and good luck to all the future members of Teach Bhride. If you need anything, I am only an e-mail or a Skype call away.

Ben Wagner