Day 40: I have some news…(I’m not pregnant)

Is this the chosen subject line of the email I sent one head of department in my organisation to tell him I was quitting my job? Maybe.

WHOEVER SAID I SOLD OUT AND BECAME AN I-DOTTING, T-CROSSING, NINE-TO-FIVER WITH MY REGULAR SALARY, PLEASE KINDLY EAT YOUR WORDS NOW. I’m still eccentric, I’m still a maverick, I still do and say whatever I want,. No matter how inappropriate, it seems.

Before I tell you about the fact I have decided to leave an incredibly secure position in the middle of a global pandemic and imminent economic crash, can we please have a moment for the fact this is entry #40? Lads. This feels special. 40 thrashing days and giddy nights of words upon excremental words upon fecal thoughts upon unintelligible brain matter.

Dearest friend – because friend and bosom buddy is how I now consider you, beloved reader – do you know what this means?? LET ME TELL YOU. I have no idea how many words these entries are but I know they are DEFINITELY twice the length of what they should be. If we get veeeeery technical and Leaving Cert Project Mathsy for a moment, and say the average is 1,200 words (this is definitely an underestimate as any of my editors reading this (unlikely and probs for the best) can attest) then, my chickens, 1,200 by 40 is like….three trillion words!!! GUYS. I’ve essentially written a book. Genuinely. If you were to print all these out (tempting as it is, please don’t, the posterity is not worth the tree massacre) it would look like an actual, juicy, completely authentic BOOK.

Jesus. This realisation has made me very emotional. If you’re reading this – if you’ve been reading these sporadic scoops of my brain matter – I just want to say thank you. They – much like me – are an undertaking and I will never understand my compulsion to write or your willingness to read but I am so grateful for both. I cannot believe how much we (I) have shared. Genuinely: I am baffled about the amount of times I’ve felt it necessary to describe my body hair situation (speaking of…).

Ok, I am crying and it’s a Friday night and I’m in my reindeer pyjamas and I only had one solitary pint so we need to move on before it gets REALLY Bridget Jones up in here.

Yea, so, not much news on my end. Walked 14,614 steps today even though I’m pretty sure my Fitbit is lying. Am obsessed with Parks and Rec and can’t believe I’m only watching it now. Had a really good cookie earlier. And yea, just quit my job. My stable, well-paid, meaningful, perfect work-life balance dream job in the midst of unprecedented global uncertainty and potentially one of the worst recessions of all time – wua? Because when else should one throw caution to the wind and move not country but continent than in the novel times of coronavirus?

Thus, heretofore, hitherto, I’ve decided to move to Australia where my plan is to….figure it all out in my mandatory quarantine period? Good plan.

The rounds of honour and homage to the rhythms you’re relinquishing for pastures new.

People keep asking me if I’ve flights booked or what my story is or what work I hope to get or where I’ll live. No and no and no and not a clue and haven’t the foggiest and any more jokes there, Karen? A fourteen-day quarantine stint in a government-mandated hotel room should iron out a few of these details. I’ll probably spend most of it composing erotic love letters to the man I hope to meet the second I’m legally allowed to run unfettered from the faux-marble lobby. In the meantime, a one-way flight to ‘Away from Here’ will do just fine.

This is why I am leaving Dublin, this is why I am brimming with nostalgia and sentimentality and joie de vivre and complete and total emotional overload. Nothing is more exhausting than walking through a city you love and muttering, upon encountering every familiar landmark, street, sandwich, “ah, the last time I will see/eat/smell/walk you”. I have said goodbye to individual trees, pints, favourite cycle lanes and exceptional bakeries thus far. I’ve also started referring to everything as ‘mine’: “my canal”, “my café”, “my Tesco.” Turns out expatriation turns you into a bit of a colonialist – gas.

Three years. The longest I’ve spent anywhere (minus the few months of subletting and abandoning and Greek-adventuring) since I was nineteen and forcing my family to experience Leaving Cert Holly (definitely the worst of all the Hollys). For me, this has been a mammoth feat of perseverance. I cannot stay very easily; I struggle to settle. And now, I am struggling to leave.

I’ve started referring to everything as ‘mine’: “my canal”, “my café”, “my Tesco.” Turns out expatriation turns you into a bit of a colonialist – gas.

Friday, 26th June 2020: my last day at work. I spent a lot of it trying not to cry alone in the office that should have been populated with eight other people. Though, in truth, I have never been more grateful for lockdown and social distancing restrictions which have saved me the interminable awkwardness of a goodbye. The only thing I loathe more than saying goodbye to anyone, know matter how brief or unfulfilling our acquaintance, is…actually, nothing tops the pressurised hysteria of a ‘so long’. So, yea, I avoid at all costs. Siblings who say they’ll get up early the next morning to “say a proper goodbye” whenever I’m going away somewhere but then invariably sleep in are my FAVOURITE. Friends who say they’ll catch me for a final coffee before I embark but then get tied up in life admin are the BEST. Those are the good people; they’re the keepers I need and want.

Because they know, they understand, that no words could possibly express all of the feelings, that one extra hug will never be enough to convey the loss and temporary suspension of future hugs, they know I know all the love stuff and I know they know it too. At least, this is what I assume is happening in our unspoken telepathy. Perhaps they’re genuinely indifferent, perhaps I need new people. Naaaaaaaaaah.

We had a virtual Zoom lunch and I tried very hard not to visibly squirm in the knowledge that all attention was focused on me. I felt I had to fill every conversation lull and by the end of the really very lovely forty minutes my cheeks were sore from the smile petrified onto my face since 12.32 pm. I only visibly cried once. Thankfully, the CEO was more interested in knowing my critique of the organisation and how they should improve than sentimentality – talk about being PUT ON THE SPOT. All other attendees got very quiet, very quickly. I said something about cutting down emissions and “living our values.”

I walked along the river exhaling deeply and looking wistful. I hoped someone was watching me and thought me mysterious and intriguing. Then I went and spent €11 on a salad bowl. I am dangerously close to insufficient funds because I cannot stop buying cookies online.

My last day ended as any last day should: a bag flung onto a bar stool, a physical and mental unburdening as the hiss of the Guinness tap set my mouth salivating.

I did the things. You know, the sad and sweet things you do when saying goodbye to one chapter of your life? The rounds of honour and homage to the rhythms you’re relinquishing for pastures new.

Went to my favourite coffeeshop and greeted the barista who has become one of those magnificent casual friends – the pillars of safety and comfort who populate your life in the form of hairdressers, beauticians, mechanics, bus drivers. The people you unconsciously rely on seeing every day; who know things about you even your closest friends don’t know: how milky you like your coffee, that you love the Kinks because they were playing on the bus that one time and you bonded over it, the exact and particular style of your Brazilian bikini wax (too graphic?). It felt amazing to be remembered, to be hailed like a prodigal daughter. It made me feel the world is, despite all appearances to the contrary, as it should be, like the recent slip from reality was just a stumble. After a life narrowed to the compass of my immediate family, it was exquisite to be reminded of all I was by this sort-of friend, sort-of stranger; to remember the tentacled, multi-faceted prism of my previous life. To know that I existed outside of my sheltered life as daughter, sister, dog-petter. The first sip of my coffee, walking down the perpetually littered Arran St, was more delicious than I remembered.

I turned the key in the lock in the mugginess of the evening. The slick click of it sounded dull, distant – it was not satisfying as I imagined it would be. Along the quays, the wind was cold and damp; my skin prickled in flimsy summer garb of belly top and shorts. I didn’t realise where I was walking until I found myself outside the pub door. Home.

My last day ended as any last day should: a bag flung onto a bar stool, a physical and mental unburdening as the hiss of the Guinness tap set my mouth salivating. Tears in the arms of my strongest friend and an illegal pint to cradle and which cradled me as I toasted the end of an era and the start of the new, great, terrifying unknown.

P.S. Mysterious, out-of-the-blue bootycall man from earlier entries is drunk texting me asking how he progresses from “being my pal” – what DOST one respond, me wonders? LOL, HAPPY FRIDAY.

Tree Tings

Oh let’s have some goodness, shall we? Go on, we’ve earned it.

  • Jim Cain by Bill Callahan. If you would like to know my mental state right now, please listen to this song. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything more beautiful? I’m sure I have, I just can’t remember right now. This was the song I listened to on my riverside mope. In fact, I think you should listen to it reading/rereading this piece. “I started telling the story without knowing the end” – I MEAN.
  • A pint. Just. Just a creamy, voluptuous, soul-soothing pint that fits perfectly into the crook of your hand.
  • The effort of a nice text. The nicest thing anyone can ever do for me is simply send a message to say ‘hey, I’m thinking of you.’ I melt. I also sound abominably insincere when I say it means a lot but Jesus Christ IT MEANS A LOT. Chances are, if you’re one of the people reading this, you’re probably one of the people who knew today was massive for me or read something of mine and took the time to send love my way. I’m never going to have words to say thank you properly so I do hope you know that you made my day. You continue to make my day, you’re only glorious!

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