I’ve been living in my little village in Longford for almost seven months, and no one’s been to see me here besides my sister (twice), my brother, my other brother, and my parents (all once). All of these visits happened in my first month here, back in August/September, and since then no one’s been in my house besides me and the man who installed my broadband.
But the weekend before last this all changed. Two of my good friends were coming to visit. I set to preparing the house, going on a killing spree against the family of flies who had recently decided to make my kitchen their home, and hoovering the stairs. Well, I hoovered the bottom three steps and the top three steps. I mean, no one besides my mother ever hoovers all the way up, do they? I filled the fridge with food, and I even bought a bottle of wine like an actual grown-up. I held my breath while I cleared the shower plughole of a hairball of my own hair (given the length of my head hair, I think it was mainly made up of my chest hair). I made sure there were enough clean towels and I cleared my web history just in case (sometimes incognito browsing is just too much effort).
One friend, let’s call her “Friend A” was arriving on Friday afternoon. The other, “Friend B”, was coming on Saturday afternoon, and they were leaving together on Sunday afternoon.
Separate arrivals meant I had two chances to give the grand tour of my house. I do like my little house, so I was excited about showing it off. I felt sad that I spent the best part of three days in December putting up Christmas decorations that no one other than me ever saw. Friend A and Friend B were both appropriately impressed. In fact, Friend B was jealous of all the space I have, and I gave her a big hug when she said it. (I know you’re not meant to admit it, but it is kind of lovely to have people be jealous of you.) I know I call it my little house, but it’s a decent three-bedroom, two-bathroom, two-storey family home on an acre of land, and other than an awful main bathroom, it’s kind of awesome, and it’s nice to remember that by seeing it through other people’s eyes, and to remember that it costs less than a bathroomless bedroom in a shared house would cost in Dublin.
Visitors meant touring the locality. Longford isn’t a tourist hotspot, and Saturday morning found Friend A and I visiting a mound in Granard, on the basis that it’s a very old mound. I climbed about halfway up the mound, while Friend A went right up to the top and waved at all of County Longford laid at her feet. There had been a lot of rain before the weekend and the mound was muddy and slippery. As we got back to the bottom, there was one very last steep bit to get down. Friend A, with the agility of a mountain alpaca, walked down to the gate easily. I made the mistake of losing my nerve and grabbing onto a rusty old piece of metal sticking out of the ground. I gingerly stepped down and let go of the piece of metal. Of course, the second I let go, I felt the ground go from under me and ended up falling onto my arse.
The mud had the consistency of your mother’s stew after it’s been sitting out for a few hours. I could feel it soaking into me and simultaneously congealing onto my trousers. The ground was too slippery for me to stand up independently, and though Friend A was willing, I don’t think she could have provided sufficient ballast, so I ended up crawling and crabwalking to the gate and hoisting myself back up there. I was covered in mud. I thought maybe I could wait for the mud to harden and peel it off and emerge like a butterfly from a chrysalis. But it wasn’t going to do. I was going to have to go home and change into other trousers. I hadn’t planned for this. I had washed these trousers for having company. They are my only ones without holes. I went home, got out of the muddy trousers and fished a pair of jeans out of the laundry basket that had two rips in the ass. It would have to do.
Once Friend B arrived, we also visited some pretty little Longford villages, we drove along the Shannon, and stopped at lovely Dromod harbour. We also did Dromod Nature Walk. I can think of few experiences that live up to their name less than Dromod Nature Walk. Other than some birds flying in the sky, where they always are, there was no nature. It is basically the equivalent of calling O’Connell Street in Dublin “O’Connell Nature Walk”. At least then there’s a chance of a rat in a bin.
But mainly, visitors are best for chats. And we had lots and lots of chats. Friend B was amazed that the wine I drank that weekend was my first alcohol of 2016. I didn’t mention that I think I only had three conversations in the whole of the month of February (I’m not including phonecalls with my mother or job interviews as conversations).
And I had great fun chatting to both Friend A and Friend B. You’ll be pleased to hear that I haven’t totally forgotten how to talk to people. And one of the best things about talking to people is disagreeing. Here are some of the areas where there was no meeting of minds:
- Neither Friend A nor Friend B is a big fan of tattoos, and Friend B specifically called out cartoon character tattoos. I am absolutely fascinated by them. I even kind of love bad ones. When I’m in Dublin, I spend half my time interrogating Brazilian shop assistants about the tattoos on their arms, and one of the many tattoos I would like to get is Dogtanian, the Mushkahound, a cartoon character.
- Friend A thinks that Zayn doesn’t look as good with blond hair. Unsurprisingly, I disagree.
- When I mentioned that I’d like to go to singing lessons sometime, because I used to be a good child singer and now I find myself going out of tune, both Friend A and Friend B exclaimed enthusiastically that I should join a choir. That was the furthest thing from my mind. I know it’s crazy, but I just don’t see myself as Michelle Williams. I’m Beyonce goddammit, and I don’t want to join a choir.
- I claimed to only know two Rolling Stones songs. Friend A insisted that I know more, and listed some. I still only know two.
- This isn’t to say I’m always right. Friend A and Friend B both cracked up at the fact that I thought Prince was white. I thought he was maybe Italian, or just had a healthy tan. They both assured me that he is, in fact, black.
- Friend A doesn’t like when children are given a phone or an iPad in a restaurant with a cartoon playing and the sound on. Friend B doesn’t like when people talk on their mobiles on trains. I’m more or less fine with both scenarios. I much prefer the sound of cartoons, even with a tinny iPhone speaker, to children running around and screaming. And I don’t see why a phone conversation on a train is more annoying than an actual conversation. I mean, I get it. But in general I find myself out of step with people when it comes to phones. I try really hard to focus on conversations with other people and not look at my phone constantly when I’m talking to them, but it’s so hard. The other person is just one person, and the other 7 billion people in the world are all on my phone, and no matter how interesting one person is, they can’t be as interesting as 7 billion people! But I try. I do.
- Finally, both Friend A and Friend B are quirky people, but they’re not big fans of weird names. I’m the opposite. I will probably never have to name a child, which might be for the best. While there are a few human names I really like, like Max and Daisy, I know that if I had a child, I couldn’t resist giving them a less namey name. Two suggestions I posed to Friend A and Friend B were Tangent and Prancey. I don’t think they’ll ever use either.
It was a lovely weekend and I’m already looking forward to the next visit, whenever that might happen.