Today marks my one-year anniversary in Cork City, Ireland, and it’s the kind of day that makes me cringe at the thought of being here forever. The kind of day when your umbrella is so wet that water drips on your head from the underside of the saturated nylon. The kind of day when using said umbrella requires a not-insignificant amount of exertion, as you must constantly fight the wind, and yet to go without would be even worse. The kind of day when you finally take refuge in a coffee shop and take out the book you’ve wrapped in a plastic bag to shield it from the rain, only to discover that dampness has permeated the protective layer, warping the pages that you know will never return to their previous unsullied form. The kind of day where sitting on your couch crocheting granny squares and listening to melancholy singer-songwriters seems like the only appropriate choice for how to spend the rest of your day.
It’s so windy that I’m pretty sure you could kite-surf over the sidewalk (sorry, they say “footpath” here) if you had a big enough umbrella, assuming that it would resist the urge to invert itself at every gust of wind.
*Note to self: Buy whatever sort of personal parachute they use for kite-surfing and pioneer the soon-to-be-worldwide-phenomenon land-surfing. Apply for patent. Get rich.
In the sunshine, Ireland may have forty shades of green, but in the rain everything is shades of grey. Sure, there are a few shades of greeny-grey, but grey nonetheless.
In some ways, these past twelve months have been the easiest of my life. Back home in the US I worked the requisite forty hours a week as a minimum, and usually more, just like everybody else. Here, I only have a part-time job, and I’ve never worked so little in my life. My job sometimes seems like a hobby, if I were the sort of person who wanted to perfect the art of answering emails for a multinational hotel chain. (Which I decidedly am not, seeing as I can hardly answer my own personal emails, much to my parents’ chagrin.) Here, I have more free time than I know what do to with, and it’s a strange feeling. I never had to worry about what to do with spare time in the States, as there wasn’t much of it, and what extra time there might have been was usually spent wandering aimlessly around the endlessly-interesting streets of DC or patronizing the myriad of eating and drinking establishments that our friends worked at. So far, with my free time here, I’ve started taking spin classes and I learned how to crochet. I’m on my third baby blanket since Christmas, which is good since everybody seems to be popping out children willy-nilly these days.
But new hobbies aside, the past twelve months have also been the hardest of my life. I left an exciting city with lots of friends to come to a place that seems infinitely smaller and where I only know a handful of people. While those people have been welcoming and supportive, it’s been indescribably difficult to leave my old life behind, and I have struggled a bit. Never once before I moved here did I ever experience anything even approaching a depressive state, but over here there are certainly times these days when I wonder about the status of my own mental health. Not that any of this has come as a shock, as I correctly predicted that I would probably lose it for a while over here. For those of you who may read this and worry about me – don’t. I’ve been one of the lucky people who has had an abnormally happy life – great family, great friends, great husband (probably should have listed him first or second), health, employment, and countless other things that I could list here. To someone like me, who has never had anything to get her down until now, totally normal feelings of displacement must seem more drastic than they really are.
But now it’s been a year, and it’s time to get out of the funk and get on with it. I’m not entirely sure how to go about it, but this morning we plunked down a deposit on a house, so I’m going to try to make myself figure it out soon, because it looks like I’ll be here for a while. Living here does have a lot of upsides, so as Tim Gunn would tell me to do, I’ll make it work. (Speaking of Tim Gunn, can somebody please bring Project Runway to Irish television???)
But, you know, it might be just a little bit easier if it didn’t rain all the damn time.