Maire and I took the day off and got ourselves pampered. Hair, tan, make-up all done and all we needed to do is get dressed. Saying this, we were still nearly late!
With a room full of Ex-Pats, this simple statement almost caused a stampede. For fear of the alcohol ever running out, each person was ordering their drinks in mutliples; "Vodka, lime, soda please. Actually make that four." We all became super generous too; "I'm going to the bar, would anyone like anything?". The poor bar-staff were made work for their wage that night and I'm not sure how the venue made any money with the volume of alcohol consumed in the 3 or 4 hours we were there!
All dressed up to the nines, you'd think we'd head out to a nice bar afterwards? No... we headed to XBase; which is a BackPacker Hostel containing a bar inside. $5 drinks and figuring that we most likely wouldn't get in anywhere else anyway, we stand out like the opposite to Wedding Gate-Crashers, whatever they're called! The antics in here included one person falling over a number of times (and then texting me to say she has a sore knee and asking if I knew anything about it), people "pole dancing" (and I put this in inverted commas for a reason), numerous photos taken that were discovered a few days later that nobody seems to have any recollection of and a few DMCs ("Deep and meaningful conversations") scattered about. I was asked "Are you Ciara? Spelled C-I-A-R-A? (from FB/email) Wow.....hockey gear does NOT suit you!". I was left staring at him like 'I don't really know where to go with this' and he then tries to make everything better by saying "I mean, you look nice....tonight". I literally just turn on my heels and walk away...(to the bar of course...!)
And typically - because my mind wasn't messed up enough, life decided to throw me another curve-ball. I got approached by a Head Hunter for a company in Europe and was offered a job there. It would be using my languages that I studied years for, it would be closer to home, a great career move and about three times the money that I'm earning now. So what's the decision then I hear you say? That's what everyone OUTSIDE of Australia asked me too. Why are you even considering this? Surely there is nothing to even think about?? Do it and pay your mortgage off, do it and go home more often, go and you'll make new friends and meet more new people...
But something wasn't sitting with me right.
Money can't buy you happiness - you can't put a value on being happy with someone, or in a particular place, or with friends; never mind all three. Why risk losing it all with something that you weren't looking for in the beginning anyway? Why throw everything that you have away in the search of more money? What's the point in having money if you have nobody to share it with or if the loneliness or separation makes you miserable?
Being half of my Dad (career orientated) and half of my Mam (socially / family orientated) made it especially taxing on my mind; with constant "What ifs"; "What if this is my only shot for everything that I've worked and studied for and I'm turning it down?", "What if I go and it doesn't work out and I can't come back to Australia?", "What if this is my ticket out of debt, negative equity and the ruin that the Recession has placed on me?" or "What if I can't deal with the wondering how it would have worked out?".
In the end I went with what I told myself I would do at the beginning of this year - do whatever makes me happy. So; I said no - much to the amazement (and perhaps disgust!) of many; but I decided to go with the dice that I've been rolled for the minute, without trying to also juggle something new. I'm struggling enough just getting through this year that I want to hang onto any shred of happiness that I have or can find. So Melbourne, I chose you; you're going to have to put up with this crazy, messed up Irish girl for a little bit longer...
And then everything is shocked back into perspective. I get a text from home telling me that a healthy young man from our parish in Kilcloon, one of my best friend's cousins, passed away. Aidan went to bed one night and just never woke up.
Just like that his life was taken from him and a massive gaping hole left in the hearts of everyone left behind who knew and loved him. And suddenly the decision to live my life how I want to, to choose happiness over money and to try my hardest to make the most of everything is reinforced. You get one shot and that could be a short one; you don't know when your time is up, so make the most of it and do it for you. Choose happiness, choose love, choose fun and memories and experiences will follow.
My heart goes out to the Dalton immediate and extended family and to the wide circle of friends that Aidan had. Just looking at Facebook you can see the impact of the loss of this young life has had and how widely across the world it is felt. The Parish is devastated at the tragedy and the ripples of pain are still felt in Australia for those of us who are here. I feel utterly sick at the thought of the pain that my friend Doireann is going through and at the fact that I can't do anything about it. I am left feeling completely useless and wishing I was at home to even just hug her and try help in some trivial way. Thoughts and prayers only go so far and all of a sudden December and my trip home feel like years away.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal. RIP.