A grown-up in a village

I’m still not used to living in the country. I still feel a little suspicious when someone I don’t know says “Hello” to me. It really is the country here. I live opposite a pub where you’re still allowed to smoke, over 11 years after it was banned. And the village petrol station is one pump outside the front door of that same pub. I go into Longford town and get some nice anonymous urban petrol. I’m just not rural enough yet for village pub petrol, but I know I will be eventually.

I have written before about how much I love stuff. I have a lot of things. Most of it has been in boxes and bags in my parents’ house since I moved out of my cottage in Dublin 8 in early 2011. I’ve missed it.

I filled my car three times over with my stuff and brought it up here. My sister filled my parents’ car and brought that up. I still didn’t have all my things. After two and a half weeks, I was still living out of boxes and still dependent on my iPhone for internet. I was driving up and down to Cork to collect my stuff. I was driving over and back to Dublin for work. People would send me cheerful texts asking me how I was settling in and I didn’t have an answer, because I hadn’t settled in.

On Tuesday, my brother and sister loaded my brother’s van with the last of my stuff and came up with it. It was the big stuff, the things that wouldn’t fit in a normal car. My bookcases. My filing cabinet. The One Direction painting. They texted telling me to have lunch ready.

Now, I’m earning a lot this year. I currently have six part-time and online jobs and have one or two more strong prospects. However, buying your first car and renting a new house in the space of a week is not cheap. I think it was the most expensive week of my life, costing the best part of €3000. So I’m currently in a between-paycheques phase.
I had lunch for my brother and sister when they arrived. I had pasta and sauce and some water to drink. But I had less than a euro, so I couldn’t afford any trimmings. When my sister realised this, she went to the village shop and bought coffee and milk and bread and Diet Coke and biscuits, so we could have an actual proper grown-up meal.

After lunch, we unloaded the van and finally I had all my things in my new house. I took my brother and sister for a little spin into Longford to see the sights. They were suitably alarmed by the various rattles and creaks that my ancient little car makes. I think it adds character to the car, which is, after all 112 in dog years.

Eventually, with another hour of daylight left, they climbed into the van and left. Over two hours later, I was in my kitchen when I spotted my brother’s bag. He has recently taken to carrying a bag and I knew he’d be annoyed that he’d forgotten it. I phoned my sister and told her. She told my brother and they were both disgusted.

Two minutes later, I got a call. They were turning the car around. Apparently, the bag could not be lived without. (In one of the least nosey moments of my life, I didn’t even bother checking what was in it, so I don’t know what was so important.)

They were in Thurles. It was hitting 11:00 pm. It would be at least 1:00 am by the time they were back in my village. Then I remembered I had a car too. I could drive and meet them halfway. I rang and offered, but only committed to driving as far as Mullingar. I didn’t want to run out of petrol. After all, I was between paycheques, had less than a euro in my wallet and had minus twelve euros in my bank account.

I sat into the car to drive and meet them. Then I realised I had forgotten the bag. I ran back inside to get it, because driving to meet them without it would have been too Connor even for Connor.

I drove in the dark to Mullingar. The Mullingar bypass is not the best place in the world to pull up safely in the dark on the side of the road, especially when your car is tiny and elderly and crushable, but it was fine. I met them and handed over the bag in the dark on the side of the motorway, like I worked for MI5. My sister slipped me a tenner for petrol and I made it back to my village unscathed.

It is nice to have all my things again, and I’ve unpacked about 80% of it now and my house is beginning to be a home.

The trouble with having 6 different jobs is that the money doesn’t necessarily arrive in huge amounts. I was paid this week. I was paid €60, 12 of which was taken by the bank, and another 20 went on petrol. The rest went on groceries, which should be fine to last me until I next get paid (sometime between Monday and Wednesday), except it’s not.

My oldest brother has been trying to arrange a time for a family photo, when we can all get together and take a photo of everyone for my mother to put in her Christmas card. A day has finally been agreed. That day is tomorrow.

I have a half-tank of petrol, which is enough to get me to Cork (probably). However, there are two motorway tolls between here and Cork and I only have enough money for one of the tolls. If I have to drive the route that avoids the tolls it’s a lot longer.

Fingers crossed that there’s enough petrol for the longer route. Fingers crossed I’m in the family photo. I want you all to wish very hard that I make it.

I’m a grown-up. Nobody told me that this is what being a grown-up would be like.

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