homeI am Eilis from Brooklyn.

 

I wonder if the main character in the 2015 film Brooklyn would say the same about herself.

 

Would she introduce herself as Eilis from Brooklyn or Eilis from Ireland?

 

I watch her story unfold and see my own in the reflection of her eyes. I ask myself, “Am I Kate from Michigan or Kate from South Africa?”

 

I was born and raised in the small, Dutch town of Holland, Michigan. A month before I turned twenty-one, I moved to Cape Town, South Africa, for my final semester of college. What I thought would be a six-month stint turned into a ten-year transformation.

 

Eilis was born and raised in Ireland. In 1951, as a young woman living with her mother and sister, Eilis is miserable in her small, gossip-filled town. She works part-time in a shop with a terrible boss and shows no interest in any Irish boys.

 

Seeing Eilis’s despondency and bleak prospects, her sister, Rose, contacts an Irish priest named Father Flood in Brooklyn, New York, on Eilis’s behalf. With the priest’s help, Rose arranges for Eilis to make passage on a ship bound for America and work in an upscale department store in Brooklyn.

 

As I watched the immigrants gripping the ship’s railing with one hand and waving farewell with the other, my own hatred of good-byes caught hard in my throat. Family members lined the dock, stoic-faced, except for the stray tear. I swallowed hard, dozens of past airport scenes banging on the back door of my mind, demanding to come in.

 

Eilis didn’t realize it yet, but her life was about to change forever. Home, as she knew it, would never be the same.

 

Join me over at Off the Page for the rest of these reflections …

Back story: My editor at Discovery House recommended this film to me, as the themes parallel those found in my forthcoming memoir — so much so that if you want to know what my book is going to be about, just watch the movie. 🙂

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