One of my favourite things about Google maps is the street view. I know that many people feel it's an invasion of privacy, but I just find it the simplest way to visit my family without getting on a plane. Sure, I can stand in the middle of Trinity College and stare at the cobblestones, I can visually walk the Mall in Armagh, I can stare at Galway from the Claddagh, or I can relive the view from the Diamond in downtown Monaghan, but the best part of the street view is looking at the homes of my aunts and uncles.
There's Uncle Kevin's house. It was the first house I ever snuck out of to attend a house party. I had my first real heartbreak when the boy I had a crush on picked another girl. I got dolled up with Elma and we attended a disco out in the middle of nowhere. Cormac introduced me to ABBA. I drove Uncle Kevin's car around the block just so I could drive on the left side (*ahem* Uncle Kevin, if you read this... I'm sorry, Lorcan dared me).
There's Uncle Lorcan's house. We used to play ping-pong in the front yard. One year in the green across the road they had a bouncy castle and silly string. I still don't know why. We'd walk to Dalkey for crisps following the path of the DART. I just really like saying 'Dalkey'. We'd drive to the Forty Foot at night to go for a swim. My cousins and I would watch 'Home and Away'.
There's Aunt Eileen's. I decided to be nice one day and beat her downstairs to make tea; I set off the alarm and woke the whole house. I played soccer on the green in front of the house in my TEVAs and learned just how painful a cracked toenail can be. Cousin Frank mocked me for saying 'Armaaaaaaaaaaaaagh' instead of 'Arma' (for the record, nobody outside of Ireland understands me when I say 'Armagh' so I my accent can't be that Canadian). Anne taught me how to say all the counties in Irish. Elaine and Uncle Frank took me to my first hurling match.
There's Aunt Dympna's. I 'worked' in her hardware store. I won a game of horse shoes at the fair. I flew a kite at the beach in my gummy shoes. I looked at the town and said "it's a parking lot" and nobody disagreed with me. I asked the question "which is bigger: Ireland or Canada?" and learned that sometimes I should look for answers before asking my brother questions he thinks are dumb. I set off the car alarm and it made me drop my bag.
Then there's Grannie's. It has long since stopped being Grannie's. I can see the division in the middle bed room which was converted to two bathrooms when it was turned into rooms for rent. But I also see the grassy area where we played tag. There's the front room we accidentally locked ourselves in once. There's the bedroom with the large wardrobe which never led to Narnia. There's the church I used to light candles in for my granddad who died before I was born. There's the road which led us into town and to the ice cream shop with the jukebox. There's the other road which lead us to the graveyard where my granddad and aunt were buried. Behind the house, just out of view, is the backyard where we played frisbee golf 15 years before I even heard about it in Canada, where I made daisy chains, where we sang songs while turning cartwheels, and where I just remember being happy.
So thank you, google street maps. I see so much more than just a picture.