Purple flavour

In Ireland and the UK, something purple is usually blackcurrant flavoured.

In the US, purple is usually grape.

Grape is a weird flavour. It doesn’t really taste of much, just artificialness. But it’s absolutely a legitimate flavour here. Blackcurrant, on the other hand, is delicious, much more so than the tiny fruits themselves, and all the best things are blackcurrant flavoured: Ribena, black wine gums, purple lollipops…

My children, to my eternal shame, do not like blackcurrant flavour. Because they’re American.

We’ve passed the point of no return, then. Even if we moved to Ireland tomorrow – which isn’t happening, I hasten to add – they’d probably never appreciate Ribena. They’re ruined now.

Someone told me once that 12 was the magic number. If you live somewhere else for twelve years, you won’t come back. I’ve been here for twelve and a half years.

Someone else, when we were home last month, asked me if it was strange to be back. I answered, as I always do, that the weirdest thing about being back is how weird it’s not. It feels perfectly normal, and it’s hard to remember that I have a life somewhere else. It still feels like that, even now after all those years. “That’s home, then, isn’t it?” my friend said sagely.

I did indulge myself in the What Ifs while we were there, especially in my hometown, on the playground, looking around at the children my kids’ ages, wondering what it would be like if we lived there. Because – here’s the thing – I didn’t marry someone from somewhere else. I married someone from home. If we lived in Ireland those same children would still be our children. Except they’d like blackcurrant flavour instead of grape.

But then I found myself in a café avoiding the eye of a girl I think I went to school with, because I sort of hate bumping into people. It’s just awkward. I’m awkward. I’m weird. And I’m happy where we are. If we lived in Ireland, maybe I’d be awkward again, with the weight of other people’s expectations all over me again. Here, I’m free.

It’s a cliche, but it’s true: I can be whoever I want in America. It’s harder to do that in the place you came from.

Be careful what you wish for, then. It might not make you happy.


10 thoughts on “Purple flavour

  1. Olivia

    I totally understand. I left Belfast 14 years ago and until recently it didn’t feel weird going back, but last weekend I found it different – too busy and rushed and the people a bit false. I think after all these years I’ve changed too and now I don’t feel like I would want to live there again. It’s nice not to pang for home anymore but it feels like I should! So don’t feel weird about it. I’m weird too! 😊

  2. Angela O'Donovan

    Hi Maud, I love your posts.
    I’m from Dublin, married to a Limerickman. So, my circumstances are a little like yours although I’m not so far from ‘home’! We are in Wimbledon. I was delighted to move to London in 1980. Couldn’t wait to ‘kick my heels’ and live a bit with no accounting for myself the next day, etc I wasn’t thinking about how long for, any of that, even when I’d go home for a holiday.
    Strangely, when mother was in her final year and a half 2008/2009 I went through a sort of emotional crisis – full of what if’s. Ireland was the same in so many lovely ways and Dublin had changed and was more fun that I remembered. It’s a perfect size, all this went through my head and heart. However, it’s all settled down now. I can’t say why for sure. I feel sorry that my son who considers himself Irish will not pass that full Irish gene down if he has children. Our culture is more than a common language. But, I wouldn’t want to transfer us back either. That says it all, I think.
    There’s probably a little regret that this is how I feel rather than a longing to go back. I love Wimbledon and all that goes with it and how it’s close to so much. The independence, freedom, endless possibilites, etc
    Anyway, I’m rambling. Keep the posts up.

  3. Muuka

    This resonates so much with me. I was telling someone recently that I have lived here close to 14 years. They asked would I ever consider going back home and my heart sank when I had to say no. Like you I was just weird back home. I like that I can be whoever I want to be now without all those reminders.

  4. Looking for Blue Sky

    Of course the sad thing is that they would probably never get the chance to appreciate RIbena now anyway as Tesco is banning its sale, at least of the non-aspartame variety.

    On living away from home, well I don’t any longer. After almost 25 years and nearly half my life, Ireland really is home, and home is just somewhere that I grew up and visit occasionally.

  5. Wendy

    My kids who have lived here in Ireland for nearly 3 years have all but given up on grape and embraced blackcurrent flavour wholeheartedly! They love Ribena and anything else purple and blackcurrent flavoured. I have to admit that I just avoid all things purple here as I eat them expecting grape and instead get blackcurrent and it’s all wrong to me.

    Your comment about being awkward resonates with me…..When I moved here I got a fresh start. I didn’t run the risk of running into anyone from my awkward secondary school days, nobody knew me and it was very freeing.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever go back. I will let you know when we are 12 years in 😉

  6. Therese

    There was a time my child would only drink Ribena – I had to have it ‘imported’.

    BTW, I’ve finally got used to the red being cherry and not raspberry. Must have been around that 12 year mark ; )


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