Today is my 6 month anniversary back in Ireland.
On 5th August 2015, my dearest friend – my almost 7 year old goddaughter – insisted that her sketchy parents drive me to the airport so I could depart the land of cheese and windmills and bicycles and frikandels after 15 yrears (joking of course, her parents are among life’s most wonderful people, whom I love dearly). Another very close friend – of the Dutch persuasion this time- also came out to Schiphol to wave me off. It should have been emotional.
It’s all a bit blurred however. I had a little diabetic low-sugar episode at the airport so was all afluster – sweating and stressing, incoherent and confused – more than usual this time, and 14 kilos over my baggage allowance. By the time I was feeling myself again, I was in the air and on my way back to the homeland.
So after 6 months, have I made the right decision? The answer is clear – absolutely no idea, it’s way too soon to be even questioning that.
The reasons I wanted to leave – or least have a sizeable break – from Amsterdam are clear. After 15 years, the city was spent for me – or I was spent in that city. I had a routine. I was integrated. I had a home. I had a network of friends. I had a pretty decent life. And I was frustrated. Why was I still here, when I only came here temporarily? Why was I replacing friends each time they left? Why am I doing this? Do I belong here? Is this how my life is going to remain?
Being single makes these questions much more clearcut. You only need to answer to yourself. Do I want to be here when I am 50? Well maybe. But I’d better have returned to Hibernia for a while before I make that decision.
So the flat was sold in an unseemly speedy fashion – it went on the market on 15 March. I was imagining it would be sold by around October. It was however snapped up. I could perhaps have waited for longer, but seeing as a new bar had just opened directly downstairs from me, I decided to skedaddle – having lived upstairs from several bars in that same location, I was a semi-connoisseur of upstairs-from-a-bar living – the initial 6 months are the loudest and most unpleasant as the new owners try to make their mark. I’m not a cruel person so I never told any of the 4 bars that opened or closed during my tenure, that they should regard it as a temporary venture.
The keys were exchanged on the date Ireland voted yes for The Gay (or the marriage referendum as it is more popularly called). I wasn’t there for the key exchange. I was quite fond of my flat and wanted to be out of the country.
Then between June and August I spent a final few months getting ready for the move. Naturally I still haven’t completed the administrative transfer of life from one country to another but it is largely under control.
The return was easy at first. It may be true that I was returning without a job or a home of my own. But the Mammy was still in Limerick and my childhood bedroom was unoccupied. Those first few months were a blur. I was probably at my most desirable ever at that point – middle-aged, unemployed and living with my mother. A veritable catch.
But that respite was temporary and turned into a frenzy of job-hunting. Employment was sourced within a couple of months, which lead to the brief housing union of flatenemy and I – we have since split, on less than amicable terms as people may be aware.
Now that the practicalities of the move have ended I am now at a point where I am trying to rebuild a network similar to what I left behind. I am lucky that I have some good friends still here, so it’s not like I am starting from scratch. And I was well aware that I’d be fooling myself if I thought I could simply slot back into the lives of people I was close to last century. People’s lives change and move, and rest for no smug returning emigrant.
So after my first 6 months back, I am still reacclimatising. Here’s to the next 6 months.