Paradise Postponed & Paradise Regained

It took a long time to move my stuff out of my little house in Longford and into my parents’ house in Cork. In fact, I filled my car with stuff five times and my parents’ car twice and I still ended up leaving some things behind.

I went a little crazy over the last week. I tried to tell myself that everyone hates moving house, but I was convinced that no one hates it as much as I do. I regretted agreeing to move it all to Cork so many times. And many times I just wanted to burn everything I’ve ever owned and starting afresh like Saint Francis of Assisi or Scarlett O’Hara. But I didn’t. 

The first load of stuff went into my car and I drove it to a hotel in North County Dublin where my parents were at a big meeting with all the people in their religious organisation. I don’t like going into situations like that. It’s not that I don’t like the people, but I feel very uncomfortable around them. They are very much my past. I feel like a sinner among the saved. A Judas among the John-the-Beloveds. A convert in waiting. And as a fat person, seeing people you haven’t seen in a long time isn’t fun, because your first thought is always “They’ll see that I’m fatter than I was and therefore failing at life.” 

As I drew up to the door of the hotel, I saw three young bearded priests smoking outside. Young bearded priests smoking is basically my childhood. (I’m exaggerating, but I definitely knew more of them then than I do now.) I found my mother and brother (a bearded priest who is neither young nor a smoker) and we transferred all the stuff from my car to my parents’ car. Luckily, I only had to speak to one of the people from the Community who knew me from before and he was very nice. I made my escape quickly. 

The next five days were a blur. I drove from Longford to Cork and back on every one of them, which amounts to about ten hours of driving a day. And in between, I was emptying my house, carrying things up and down stairs and packing my car over and over again. My mother came up with her car twice. My hundreds of books are much more important to me than the Argos flatpack shelves that they sit on, and I was happy to leave the shelves behind. My mother wouldn’t hear of it and unscrewed five bookcases and we filled her car with crappy chipboard with nails sticking out at every angle. 

It didn’t take me long to realise that I’d need longer to move out and I got my landlord to move my final day in the house from Monday to Wednesday and then to Thursday. And it took every hour of that time to move. Thursday was the day I’d booked my impulse flight to London. I had to postpone. I just wouldn’t be moved out on time. And even if I was, my poor little pensioner mother had been on her hands and knees unscrewing my bookshelves in my unheated little house. I couldn’t just plonk it all in the hallway of my parents’ house and leave them to put it away. I had to help. 

I did curse myself for letting my dad guilt me in to moving everything to Cork, but it was too late now. And I didn’t just need to sort out my stuff. There were old diaries and various other private (wink) things that needed to be put away safely. Once it’s in my parents’ house, my mother will not shy away from dusting it and categorising it, so some things need to be stored with great care. 

My flight left without me on Thursday and I mourned it, but I didn’t let my plan die. 

I was depressed though. And my physical condition wasn’t helping. Anyone would be tired after a week of moving house with ten hours of driving a day. But I have sixteen extra stone to haul around too. And as I carried my bajillionth pile of books down the stairs I noticed the return of an old enemy, my Camino ankles. I could barely walk. And I had another two days of packing ahead of me and a house to clean and a ludicrous life plan to get back on track. I lay down on soon-to-be-abandoned bed and I cried. 

It was after 1:30 am when I arrived in Cork that night. It was after 2:30 by the time I had the car unpacked and all my belongings piled up in my mother’s good front room. I had a UPS man coming to collect some work materials from a former job in Longford at 9:00 am. I slept for an hour and a half and got on the road back up to Longford. That was not my finest day, though I did manage to fill my car again and drive back down to Cork. I had my five-foot One Direction canvas painting in my little car on the drive down. As I sleepily drove along the motorway, the painting rested on my head, the frame whacking my skull any time I hit a bump on the road. I had to pull over in Abbeyleix and sleep for 45 minutes, but I made it to Cork unharmed. 

But it’s done. I got it all done. Everything that needed to be moved got moved back to Cork. I cleaned the house from top to bottom. And I got my full (meagre) deposit back from the landlord (who was angry with me for mopping the upstairs floors because water will warp lanolin, whatever that is, but said he’d miss me because I always paid my rent and didn’t have any dogs or children who “fuck the place up”).  

During the move I realised something. My mother didn’t think it was just my stuff. She thought I was moving to Cork as well. My heart sank. I was going to have to reject my parents again. Not moving into your parents’ house shouldn’t be a big deal when you’re 35 and a half. But I was fearful. 

I waited a few days. On Saturday, I booked a flight and a hostel. With the upcoming bank holiday, flights out of Ireland are very expensive. I couldn’t find anything for less than €100. Except one. For €60. This Wednesday, I’m flying from Dublin to Copenhagen and then from Copenhagen to Gatwick. It is literally the cheapest flight from Ireland to London this week. 

I’ve booked a hostel. It’s a long-term hostel in Notting Hill with breakfast and dinner provided and I’ll be sharing a room with another man. It’s going to be an awfully big adventure. It’s dear for a hostel, but it’s cheap for London and I get my meals and my internet for free so I’m all set. 

It was with much trepidation that I told my parents about my plan after they came home from mass on Saturday night. I thought they’d be hurt and worried. They weren’t. My mother rolled her eyes at me. She finds my plans funny, but she likes that I want to be a writer and she likes that I’m not planning to sit around waiting for a job to land on my lap. My dad likes the idea of London, saying that there was no such thing as an interest that was too niche in London. In London you will always find people who have things in common with you. Little does he know. 

I’ve done some limited googling about London. It has the biggest bears’ club in Europe. And there are many large men’s clothing shops and I was on one of their websites and they have a Christmas jumper in my size. Imagine. I know this shouldn’t be as significant to me as it is, but I felt myself getting choked up at the thought. A Christmas jumper. I’m such a Christmas jumper person and I’ve never seen one that came anywhere near fitting me. 

The streets really are paved with gold there. I’m excited. 

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