Facebook is a cunning beast. The ‘On this day’ function in particular. The daily reminder of what you posted on a particular date, each year you have had an account, can throw up the most unsettling surprises.
For example, on this date last year, I moved to Dublin. My Facebook post from that date seemed to be a premonition. It reads “Oh buggery bollocks. I seem to have landed myself into a ‘situation’.”
I had bad omens about Flatenemy from the very first day.
What a year it has been. My initial thoughts on my arrival home last August, was that I was going to give Ireland a year. Moving back in to the Mammy’s house initially, I can now see was a wise decision.
I was completely shell-shocked on arrival. What had I done? Was I mad? Had I thrown my life away simply because Amsterdam was feeling a bit stale? Wouldn’t it have been better to simply brazen it out and wait for the inevitable upturn?
Being back in my childhood bedroom – at the age of forty – felt utterly tragic. I didn’t feel like much of a catch. A forty year old, unemployed gay man, living with his mother. I’d have run a mile from myself, had I met myself in a snazzy cocktail bar.
But it was also comforting. A secure place from where I could plot my next move. I was going to live in Cork. Even Limerick at a stretch. Dublin was an option but very much not the priority. I didn’t fancy Dublin. I’d lived there before. While it is an amazing place, I knew that thanks to its closeness in size to Amsterdam, I’d be constantly comparing it to the Dam. And I didn’t want to find Dublin lacking. I suspected I would. This wouldn’t have been Dublin’s fault. It was more to do with my own state of mind.
The next ten weeks in Limerick went by in a blur. Resumes, interviews, improv classes, acting classes, and more interviews. Quickly I realised that I might need to adjust my expectations. Most of the suitable positions were in Dublin. What the hell, I thought. if a job materialises in Dublin, then I’d go there. For a year.
After ten weeks – the longest I’d spent in my hometown in twenty years, I packed my bags to my new flat in Castleknock. The alarm bells should have rang when Flatenemy offered me the room, site unseen. Who does that?
Lunatics. That’s who.
Between November and January was one of the most awful periods in my life to this point. Living with a snooping fruitcake, in a job I was unsure I was able to do, in a city and country, I’d been away from for decades. Having moved in the day the clocks went back, meaning it was almost permanent darkness.
Every day, walking towards the bus-stop on the way to work, I would scheme about how I should, up and leave. And go back to Amsterdam with my tail between my legs. I could settle back in fairly easily. I have good friends there. Maybe I’d say that my return to Ireland was only even meant to be temporary. But hadn’t they all been to my farewell party on the canal?
Friends in Dublin were fantastic. They were so welcoming and accommodating. But the noxious refrain in my head kept repeating. ‘What have you done? What have you done?’
And then came January. And I signed the lease to my very own city centre flat. I left Flatenemy’s lair in an explosive manner, screeching at him that prying around a flatmate’s room is psychotic, and that he’d be hearing from my lawyer (this was just an idle threat – I’ve always wanted to say it though.)
Life began again.
I joined a drama group – with whom I have staged, two of my own plays. I had two stories published in a book, and another in a magazine. I’ve been exploring the city in a methodical way – like a tourist should. I’ve seen shows, made some new friends, and even learned to tolerate the commute to work – thanks in no small part to Beyonce and her mum. I’ve started driving lessons.
I still occasionally think about packing it all in and getting the next flight to Amsterdam. But less and less.
You may be a pox-ridden cesspit.
But I love you anyway.