At 10.30 on Good Friday I have an interview for a job. A new job, not dissimilar to the one I am employed in right now. The same industry, similar kind of tasks. The main difference is the job location. The position would be based in a city that I know. A city under the sea. A city called Amsterdam. The capital of the Netherlands. I’m not travelling to the Netherlands for the interview – the head of the department is based in Dublin so I will be staying in this country for the inquisition. Friday is a compulsory day off in my current job – although it is not an official public holiday. So no suspicious half day from work.
What am I thinking though?
I left Amsterdam in August 2015. I moved to Dublin in November 2015. My plan was to wait two years before making any sort of decision about whether I wanted to resettle in Ireland. I’d been warned that the first year home after fifteen years abroad would be an absolute rollercoaster of a journey. They weren’t wrong. The number of times I thought ‘What on EARTH have you done? You’ve thrown your life away by coming back here’ is too large a number to count.
I hasten to add that I’m not trying to suggest that living in Ireland is a bad thing (or that there’s anything wrong with the people). It’s not. It’s just that I’d built a life, and friendships and networks and routines in Holland. Why was I back in a city in which I’d not lived in decades? Where I knew some people, but had no guarantee that my earlier friendships had survived (when you are home once or twice a year, your presence is a novelty, when you are living here permanently then not so much. And friendships dissolve due to lack of regular contact. Thankfully some of the friendships survived. Others … not so much. Why was taking the chance. My life in Amsterdam wasn’t unpleasant.
I guess I came back because my original intention was to spend a solitary, adventure year abroad. When I’d left Ireland at the age of twenty five my plan was to try Holland for a year. One year turned into two. And before I knew it I’d been there for fifteen years. But still only temporarily. This was never planned as a long term move. Finally at the age of forty the planets aligned and my triumphant return to the motherland was realised.
And so began the most distressing year of my adult life. Starting from scratch. I had some luck for sure – acquiring my lovely apartment (after the two month nightmare that was Flatenemy) was a godsend, and is probably the main reason I never slunk back to the Dam (or even considered it). All in all though the year was difficult. Just to emphasise – in case people think I am being critical – this has less to do with my friends – old or new – than with my own period of adjustment. Feeling like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.
Work was not ideal – then again – fulltime paid employment rarely is. The dreams of finding a fulfilling job in a completely new field were dealt a dose of harsh reality. My employment history in Holland consisted of global multinational employers. As a result of which the companies calling me for interviews fit that mould.
I got a call last week from Amsterdam. An employment agency. Inquiring about my availability for employment. When she heard that I was now in Ireland she said ‘Does that mean that positions in Amsterdam are of no interest to you?’ My reply was almost instinctive – ‘Oh believe me Mevrouw, I am very interested in jobs in Amsterdam.’
I am not sure if I would actually go back? Would it be a step backwards? Have I given Ireland enough time? Or would it be a homecoming after my twenty month experiment to see if I could handle living back home.
Would it be foolish to move back to Holland from Dublin – when I’d initially left my preference had been to try to live in Cork or Limerick, rather than Dirty Old Dublin. I could still try this. But not if I’m back in Amsterdam.
Would it be wise to go to a country where English is the second language just at the point when I’m writing plays which are getting staged in festivals. Is this something I could explore more? Could this be the way I escape a life of corporate drudgery?
Being single I suppose makes the decision easier to make. I have no obligations like a partner or children to consider. Will I ever? Who knows? If I do, is it more likely to be in Ireland or the Netherlands?
Am I in the middle of some horrendous and protracted mid-life, existential crisis. In which case should I just buy a motorbike and leather jacket instead of changing country again?
Who knows? I’ll go for the interview on Friday. They might not make me a job offer, after all. I can cross that bridge when I come to it.