Putting our life in Dublin to rest

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

It's no surprise to anyone who knows me that I wasn't exactly keen on moving back to the U.S. in 2018.  For me personally, our time in Dublin was one of the best periods of my life: my mysterious health issues almost immediately disappeared; I found new hobbies that brought me a great deal of joy (and developed friendships with people through those hobbies that were my friends first and foremost, as opposed to the friends I've acquired through my relationship with Alan); we ventured to places in Europe I'd only ever read about in books and never thought I'd see in person; I was removed from the unhappiness associated with the constant reminder of what I disappointment I was to my in-laws for choosing not to have kids; and my career as a romance author was going well. I loved the books I was writing, and readers seemed to as well. 

I probably could have gotten over my melancholy at leaving Dublin if things hadn't turned out to be so damn hard once we were back here in the U.S.  Eventually, all I could think about was how much I wanted my old life back. I wanted to feel like the best version of me. I missed the adventures Alan and I took together. 

Each day, as new issues arose, I grew increasingly bitter and resentful.

When the house I wanted turned out to be a money pit that has cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and renovations, I longed for our old house on Leinster Road while simultaneously hating myself for pushing us into this house. As my health began to deteriorate and doctors told me they weren't sure what the issue was, I longed for my days of relatively good health. As I watched friends through the filter of Instagram and Facebook enjoy the city and hobbies I loved, I cried buckets in a town where I felt like an outsider, one where I had zero friends despite trying to make them. It wasn't until I launched a bi-weekly board game night at a local brewery that I managed to recapture even a small bit of the spark that I felt dying inside of me. And my writing? Let's just say I don't write all that much anymore, and when I do manage to put out a book, the sales are so tragically poor that I often wonder why I bothered at all. 

Honestly, I've felt like a failure almost every damn day of these last four years -- and that's not even taking into account how Covid has taken a toll on my mental health. It's everything outside of the pandemic that has had me wishing and hoping for a life that was no longer mine.

All this to say, you can imagine how completely ecstatic I was to book flights back to Dublin for this past week. It was going to be a short trip, but I couldn't wait for us to get there -- to walk the streets we'd grown to know so well ... to revisit the places that had shaped such a happy time in our life together.

Now that we're back home, I can safely say we had an absolutely splendid time. So much fun! 

But ... it wasn't the sunshine and roses I expected either. 

Maybe I've changed. Maybe we've changed. Or maybe Dublin has changed. Maybe it's all this and more.

I realize a lot of this could be chalked up to the fact that we were staying in a hotel instead of our own cozy home -- in fact, that's probably A LOT of what's driving my feelings. There were certainly moments that felt exactly like old times, among them sitting in the stands at the Aviva cheering Leinster on and then walking home like we used to do every weekend. It felt so much like no time at all had passed. 

But, to my surprise, being in Dublin felt foreign. I felt foreign -- which, in Ireland, I am. But I'd never felt that way before. From the moment we touched down in September 2018, I'd felt embraced. Welcomed. Now I worried that people thought I was just another damn American invading their space. The other thing that dawned on me? There were no middle-aged Irish people in city center. It felt completely taken over by students from everywhere but Dublin. 

I didn't remember the crowds being quite so large, or there being so many rude people. I didn't remember having to shout in a pub over the noise to the point of losing your voice just to have a conversation with your friends. I didn't remember being allergic to all the damn smokers and perfume wearers. Walking the streets regardless of the time of the day was a complete assault on my poor allergies. For four days, I had a sore throat and itchy, red, stinging eyes from it all. Showering was the only time I felt any relief from the onslaught whatsoever. And the food? Well, I got sick from all the grease in every meal. I used to be able to enjoy a "full Irish" breakfast like it was my job; the two times I tried to eat them this weekend, the grease was just too much. I don't remember that being the case before. 

As we made our way to the airport, I thought to myself, "I can't wait to get home." It was honestly a shock. 

As it turns out, while I've been mourning my old life, we've gone and built a pretty fantastic one here. 

Our house is still a money pit, but it's a gorgeous money pit. We have two cats that bring me limitless joy. The area we've settled is absolutely gorgeous. We have friends we see nearly every Friday and Saturday night. Heck, we even go on vacation with a few of them! Battling Cthulhu every Friday night is a lot different than cheering on my favorite rugby team at the RDS, but it's great fun, too. And I'll continue to miss a trad music session at a beautiful pub, but our local craft breweries are pretty darn special too.

For the first time in a long while, I don't feel unhappy about being here, and maybe now that I'm not spending so much time looking back, I can start to finally look forward and embrace this life.

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