18th-31st August 2018
Everyone asks cautiously as if they secretly believe that I chose to move to a seemingly random country and get a job there before moving back to the states in the very near future, all as a very complicated, drawn out, temporary, and frivolous gallivant across the pond, so therefore I must be mentally unstable.
Ok, maybe that’s not what they actually think, but with the tone that some have asked the question, it seems that way. It visibly puts most people at ease when I tell them that my mom is from Dublin and I have family here and they realize that it wasn’t such a random decision, so I’m relabeled as mentally stable.
On August 19th I got off the plane and passed through immigration in record timing thanks to my handy dandy Irish passport. I’d say it was three minutes, tops, and two and a half were me trying to go through the new automated passport control but for some reason unrelated to me it wasn’t working properly. My uncle picked me up from the airport, which he has done faithfully every time I’ve ever visited as far as I can remember. We then drove to my Grandad’s house in Raheny, also a faithful tradition sating all the way back to my first visit when I was only two months old, but this time, marking a distinct first, we arrived at an empty house.
As you may know from my last post, my grandad passed away rather suddenly in June. The original plan was that I would move in with him for a while until I was settled and I found my own place to live. I’ve still moved in but now I’m the caretaker of the house until it’s sold sometime next year. It’s really strange to be in such a quiet house. I’ve never lived completely on my own before because I’ve always lived with family or housemates, so the solitude is not necessarily unwelcome, but definitely something to adjust to. What’s even more odd is that I’m allowed, encouraged in fact, to “make it mine” for the time being. Of course for me that means that I already have the pantry stocked with flour, sugar, etc. and (because Europe doesn’t do measuring cups) I’m just waiting on the kitchen scale I ordered to come in the mail.
The day after I arrived, one of the next-door neighbors, who has lived there nearly as long as my Grandad had and has known all three generations, kindly invited me to her house for tea (“tea” as in dinner ((but with actual tea of course))). This was the week before Pope Francis came to Dublin and they were hosting a priest who had just arrived from France. They made a traditional Irish breakfast for dinner (which made me very glad I’m not vegetarian or especially vegan because I have no idea how I would’ve gotten around that) and afterwards we went for an unseasonably warm and pleasant walk in Howth Harbor (one of my favorite places) and had some ice cream. I can tell you firsthand that the Irish hospitality is not a stereotype, it’s very much true.
Then, after a few days of unsuccessfully trying to figure things out (like open a bank account), my uncle, one of my aunts, and I went to England for several days to visit another aunt and uncle and my cousins. One of my cousins passed away 15 years ago when he was 20 while he was playing golf, which he greatly enjoyed. Now each year his parents and twin brother host a golf tournament in his honor, and this year, since I was so geographically close and the timing was just right, I was able to be there to support them as well as spend time with them. Apart from the tournament and the family dinner that always follows, for the most part we did a whole lot of nothing, which was great. We spent many hours sitting around the kitchen table talking and telling stories over cups of tea and coffee and biscuits, and we went to see my cousin and his wife’s new house (and bunnies!). Granted I got a terrible cold after a few days and the weather wasn’t great so I don’t think that helped doing anything other than nothing. But after those several days of being mostly by myself, it was wonderful to just sit and absorb all the conversation and jokes and stories that I either don’t remember, wasn’t alive for, or wasn’t present for.
On the whole I’m not complaining (or as the Irish would say “giving out”). The biggest struggle up to this point has simply been the fact that due to the newness, everything requires so much effort. Even though much of it isn’t new to me (the culture, slang, transportation, etc.), I still don’t know everything about this place because I’ve never stayed here long enough before. Exhibit A: I’ve accidentally taken the Luas (Dublin city tram) twice without paying due solely to my inability to figure out where the little kiosk thing where you swipe your leap card was. The first time I thought it was on the tram itself, and the second time I thought I found it but realized only after that it wasn’t it. I feel bad, but no one ever gave me a second glance, so I’m less concerned about getting arrested and more concerned that they’ve made it way too easy for people to ride for free.
Today I started my job (on Labor Day ironically) with Hayes Higgins, so more on that to come later!