So I left Ireland. It's hard to describe the feeling of leaving a place not knowing when you'll return. If you'll return. It's even harder to describe my feelings about Ireland in general. Let's just say it's complicated.
Perhaps it was where I was mentally and physically in general at that point in my life, but my time in Ireland was anything but easy. From the get-go, I was met with obstacles which challenged every bone in me. An intense feeling of loneliness and not belonging. It didn't help that I was homeless for almost 4 months, moving from hostel to hostel. In Santa Barbara I experienced being homeless for certain periods as well, at the beginning of every semester, but the big difference between SB and Dublin was that I never felt alone in SB. I always had friends I could trust and who loved me, who were experiencing the same thing at the same time. We persevered, together. In Dublin, I was all on my own. And despite the "friendliness" of the Irish, I felt very unwelcome. Like I didn't fit in, completely.
I came to Dublin with a friend, so to say I was completely alone is not exactly correct. While we had dreams of finding a place together, the tough housing market in Dublin split us apart. She found a place to stay before me, while I was stuck in bunk beds for another month or so. That first time in Dublin scarred me. The housing market scarred me. Hostels, free toasting bread with jam, humidity and being constantly surrounded by people but always feeling completely alone scarred me.
There were moments I cherished in the beginning (and throughout, of course). Moments when I felt like "this might be it". Warm nights walking through Temple Bar, sunny Sundays going down to the Sunday market in Dún Laoghaire made me fall in love with Dublin. But as the months passed, the rain and the cold took over and I was growing extremely hopeless of ever finding a place to call my own.
I came to Dublin to finish my studies. I hated how I had just abandoned it in SB, so I was determined to make it work despite the hardships. The first semester while being homeless was tough, and I wouldn't have survived had it not been for the people I met in my class. Indah, the Dutch girl who took me in on nights when no hostels wanted me, and who invited me out for drinks; Jake, who would take the last bus home just to keep me company after school; Shane, who would invite all of us over for tea and couch hang (it felt like a second home); Mike, who joined our class late but shared my love for sad songs.
I also met my current best friend and my favourite person in the whole wide world; Andrew. I tried to resist falling in love with him, but I couldn't. Luckily, he was struggling with the same thing. Despite us being in love, it wasn't particularly a nice experience in the beginning. It rarely is. I was convinced he didn't care for me, really. I even helped him try to get other girls. We were so different yet he reminded me of everything that's familiar. At the end of 2013, we finally got together. And Dublin made a lot more sense.
The start of 2014 was a roller coaster, to say the least. As soon as I left Sweden after Christmas I found out that my darling precious dog Lovis had died. I finally got a place to stay, and even had a housewarming party - but I still felt lonely and homeless. I didn't like the place where I was staying at. The walls were thin, the rain came through the roof - among other things. I was still desperately in love with Andrew, while he didn't think it was the best idea for us to be together due to having similar friends and being in the same class. I tried to be the "cool girl", so I just agreed with him. Despite not really accepting me as his girlfriend I tricked him into taking these very couple-like pictures of us haha:
Things were looking up when I got to share an apartment in the middle of Temple Bar with the friend I had arrived to Dublin with! I loved our little space. It felt like for the first time since I got there I could relax. I had my own room, and we had a tv and a couch where we watched Top Gear and ate crisps! I loved it there. Andrew came over early in the mornings and stayed after school. It was the sweetest period in Dublin I had. Mom and my sister came over to visit. Dad, too.
Then Grandpa died. I took it really, really hard. I hated being far away, I hated only being able to be home for a week. My computer broke down at the same time. I'm not comparing those two things at all, I just remember breaking down publically among friends cause my precious young little heart wasn't used to all that happening all at once. Things kept piling up. A couple of weeks after that, the next big thing happened. An event which completely broke me and changed me as a person. Having to have an abortion in a country where it's illegal is... I don't really know what to say about it. Comparing Sweden and Ireland when it comes to abortion is a bit absurd. In Ireland I couldn't talk to anyone about it. I felt shame and disgust. In Sweden, nobody gave a shit. I was somewhere in the middle. Wanted to not care, knowing it was the right thing to do. But due to the situation, and where I was living, it made everything so much bigger than it had to be. Flying home, taking time off school. The secrecy. I still haven't told many people at all, which is weird to me. I want to be able to tell everyone, which is why I'm writing it here I guess. I cannot take responsibility if other people feel uncomfortable of that fact anymore.
Needless to say I cried a lot Spring 2014. While also falling more and more in love with Andrew every day. Needless to say - I cried a lot in front of Andrew haha.
Summer 2014 I got a job at Google Maps. I spent the days working, hanging out with new friends and going to the gym in the evenings when I wasn't with Andrew. Summer was a nice break from Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. Nothing really happened, the routine I had going was very much appreciated. I didn't really feel like myself during that summer, but it didn't matter. I welcomed being someone else for a while after having too much of a personal battle for so many months.
Fall 2014 had a soft start where me and Andrew went down to Kerry on our first trip together. It was one of the most amazing trips ever, and I'll cherish that time we had together forever. A couple of weeks after that we went to Sweden, Andrew's first trip there. He fell in love with the country, and I was so happy he enjoyed Sweden so much as I had started to really feel like Dublin/Ireland might not be the place for me. But I still had a year in college left, so I didn't really think too much about it either.
After the summer months, me and my Swedish friend had to move from our apartment quite abruptly. Pretty ordinary scenario in Dublin. We moved further away from town, but still central, in an apartment that neither of us really liked. I never felt at home there, it was just a place I slept during the weekdays. Most weekends I spent at Andrew's place outside Dublin. I worked hard at school, trying to take my career seriously, trying to prepare for something afterwards I guess. I enjoyed spending time with Andrew, it was the only thing that really made sense.
After celebrating Christmas at home in Sweden, I went back to Dublin to finish off my years of studying (I thought). My friend Sofia came to visit, and Andrew continued to make me happy. We explored the nature of Ireland and I loved getting out on the country side, away from Dublin. The dark, grey city had lost its magic a bit, but the Irish landscape still impressed! School finally ended, so did my financial aid. I finished my thesis, said goodbye (sort of) to our friends from school. I entered the unknown, let's say.
I got a job for the summer, a job I didn't really enjoy but it was okay. It kept me going, it had me staying. I didn't really want to stay, but Andrew was there. I wanted to be around him, simple as. My life was with him now. My brother came over to visit one time, my dad another time but other than that not much happened. I really hated our apartment and did everything I could not to be there, to be with Andrew instead. I started to have really bad health concerns which took over my emotional and physical life, while I contemplated fall. Andrew was due to start his Masters in Feature Film Production and I wasn't sure what to do.
I ended up joining Andrew in the Masters course. Not only for Andrew's sake, but I didn't want to work anymore. I thought it was the right thing to do, which perhaps it was. In the beginning, I worked and studied at the same time due to many complications with getting my financial aid going again. I remember thinking "this is it, I'll never experience hardship like this again", but then again that thought reoccurs in life. You just learn to deal with more as you go on. I didn't take many pictures in fall/winter 2015. I tried to focus on surviving. I moved home to Andrew, it made more sense. I was there all the time anyway, and the apartment was too toxic for me. The school was tough, it challenged me in every way. Is this really what I wanted, what I was good at?
New Years Eve 2015, we were at a wedding celebrating with Andrew's friends. I remember just breaking down, like I had started to do a lot. I didn't want to be around people, I didn't want to be alone. I didn't want to be in Ireland, I didn't want to be without Andrew. I felt like I had forgotten something about myself, that I couldn't live my life anymore as me. I didn't feel like I belonged, I complained about minor things and let them ruined me. In school, I ended up producing both a short and a feature film in Spring 2016 so I was doing great career wise. But it all came with many panic attacks, Andrew again being so good at comforting.
I tried to focus on the small things. Books, cups of coffee, meeting with friends, animals, nature, road trips around Ireland, but it was tough. My health wasn't there, my heart wasn't there. I craved hearty conversations with friends, but as friendly as Irish people are when you meet them, I've found it hard to really get close to them. Everything is grand, not a bother. The focus is on Having Fun and keep it light; to not take things so seriously. Swedes are quite the opposite, to us everything is a serious matter. I felt very lonely even though I had Andrew.
In the summer of 2016 it was time for me to make my Masters thesis. I decided to go home to Sweden and finish it up. Me and Andrew started dreaming about moving to Canada, and we knew we needed to save up money for it. The plan was for me to go home and finish the thesis and then get a job so we could start saving up. I had to take a break from Ireland, I needed family and Sweden and familiarity. It was scary, but it was the right thing to do. I came back to Ireland in the fall to go to our film premier at the Irish Film Institute with the feature film we made earlier that year, but that was it. Andrew kept visiting me in Sweden as well, it worked for a while.
After not having any luck in getting a job in Sweden, I decided to go back with Andrew to Dublin to try my luck there (again). I missed him too much, I didn't care that I had to go back to Ireland that I associated with so much hardship. I still hadn't finished my Masters thesis due to a lot of reasons, mostly depression over being unemployed and alone. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to be with Andrew so the decision was made! I got a job pretty much straight away in Dublin. A job that I, naturally, hated. The job itself was okay, but it just wasn't for me. I had such social anxiety and my stress levels were through the roof. I was living in a constant survival mode.
This blog already contains some details about 2017, so I'm not gonna repeat it all again. I don't know what I would do without Andrew. Rest assure (as much as he hates to hear it), I would not be staying in Ireland if it hadn't been for him. That's a good enough reason. Home is where your heart is and all that jazz! Despite him though, Ireland never really felt like my home. I had trouble getting Irish friends, I always found things to complain about. A lot of things happened in Ireland that the country itself wasn't responsible for, it's just a pity that it all happened there.
In January we'll move to Canada, just to see what the fuss is about. Currently, I don't see myself ever living in Ireland again, but I've been wrong before! I'll always come back to Ireland. It IS familiar and I have a lot to thank it for. I have family there now, and will always have family there. I feel stronger now. My stay there helped me shaped my values. It made me realise how important it is to be completely yourself, taking care of yourself, taking up space. Some things/places/people are valuable to us not because we stay there/stay friends with them but because we leave. Always forward, never backwards.