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Sunday, 8 March 2015

FOMO Forever?

Week three flies in and I'm on the downward slope of the trip. It's funny how long it takes you to settle in and feel like you're home and then you're almost going back. Bhany and Luke brought Mam and Dad into the sitting room and told them that they were moving back to Ireland after he finishes his stint in the army. This news of course brought tears of joy from Mam and massive smiles from Dad, who are only delighted to be able to be a part of Izzy's upbringing. Mam follows it up with "you didn't need to get me anything for Christmas - this is the best present ever", to which Bhany looks at me afterwards and says "well you couldn't have told us and saved us the money!" Ha ha!
I can see how much happier Bhany and Luke are now after making the decision which shows me that they've made the right one. Their lives in Australia are completely different to mine and they're now on the countdown to the time when they can come back to Ireland to settle. How time changes everything!
Day 15:

I drop Anna off at the airport after her short trip over and then Dad, Luke, Bhany, Izzy and I head off to Killybegs, Co. Donegal in the rain to go start the visiting of the relations. Izzy, surprisingly for someone so small, can take up a lot of space; not leaving much for the two adults (Bhany and I) squished in the back of
the car for the 3 and a half hour trip. We arrived in Donegal Town first to call in and see my Grand-Aunt Mary and then from there to Croaghlin to see my Dad's cousin Catherine, her husband Pat and their son Conan. Nuala, my other Grand-Aunt was also there and was delighted to see us. Trying to take a photo with Nuala and Izzy was a task in itself, as Nuala kept looking at Izzy instead of the camera, and Izzy kept looking everywhere else! We stayed for a few hours as Izzy played with the dog and won everyone over with her cuteness! Nuala's attempt to compliment me by saying "You're looking great Ciara! Your Dad showed me some photos where you were looking skinny, but you don't now..." made everyone laugh (and probably made me die a little inside!) and reinforced my commitment to the gym while being at home! We had some food back in the house with Catherine while I tried to guide her into the world of Social Media and then I went to bed about 11pm; wrecked.

Day 16:

From Donegal we head to Cloonfaughna,  Co. Mayo, where we bring (take? bring? I'm not sure anymore...still need to fill you in on this!) Izzy to meet our cousin Jennifer and her Mam and Dad Anne and Michael. She immediately loves Uncle Michael who plays with her at the fridge. I remember how the big adult joke was to make the kids scared of Michael when we came to visit; thinking we had to bring him
something as he would always ask "Well? What did you bring me?!" when we arrived in to his house. We would scramble about the car looking for something that we could present him with upon arrival; with Mam and Dad laughing at our fear of not having anything when the time came. I remember one time, where the three of us had woken up early and went to the kitchen for breakfast. Michael was there and got us cereal with  milk. The three of us started diving into the cereal, but suddenly stopped and couldn’t eat any more. The food tasted funny and it wasn’t nice. Not wanting to be rude and probably through fear of having Michael say anything to you (not that I EVER remember Michael saying anything bad to us or ever even raising his voice in my life!), we sat at the table for an hour or so before Mam got up. When she came into the kitchen she asked

us why we weren’t eating and after smelling the cereal soon discovered that Michael had used buttermilk in it! It still makes me smile how we simply sat there saying nothing, yet pretending to eat and how Michael never noticed anything amiss. I think it was Michael’s sheer size that intimidated us? Not sure…he’s my Godfather and I love him to pieces; well over the “fear factor” now! Michael was known to give me unusual gifts, such as the time he handed me something he said he found while working and said “Don’t say I never give ya nothin’”. I looked at it the lump of rusty metal and wondered what it could be. “A door knocker?” I said. “Kind of…” he said, before revealing that it was the handle of a coffin from a grave he had been digging earlier!!
Now this Grave-Digging-Uncle was playing the game of “Let’s stick the magnets on the fridge, then rip them off and throw them on the floor” with 11-month-old Isabel and she was having a great time!

We stayed a couple of hours, had some dinner and then got back in the car and headed back home to Co. Meath. I turned right around and headed into meet Sarah in Celbridge and we headed to Michelle’s house for some take-away, chocolate and wine with Ciara. A proper girly night! We got Sarah to order Indian take-away and then waited for it to arrive. The ring of the doorbell meant Sarah had to answer it and we laughed as the courier chatted away to her. When she sat down with the food we had spent an hour talking about, we quickly noticed that Ciara’s order had been forgotten. Sarah called the place back up and within 20 mins the doorbell rang again. Same man (who by now we had decided was hitting on Sarah), and Sarah took the food, chatted away to him and thanked him before coming inside. Yet again the order was wrong, and Sarah had to call up a third time to explain. Another 15 mins later the same man (who we decided was about to propose to Sarah at this stage) turned up with the order and joked about Sarah doing it on purpose to see him. The three of us laughed our heads off in the back room as she squirmed and politely laughed off the comment. Finally Ciara got to eat her meal about an hour and a half after the rest of us had finished! Not good when you’re “Foodie-Friends”.
The night continued with laughter and chats, and it was eventually 3.45am when we headed to bed; not very envious of Ciara who was working the next morning. 

Day 17

Woke up at 8am exhausted and sat round with the girls til we decided to go for brunch. Still so cold outside, I don't think I'll be used to it by the time I go home. After a beautiful brunch Sarah brought me back to the gym in Celbridge. I had been to Dundrum Shopping Centre and bought a new handbag in "Fat Face" as I'd seen Shell with it and really liked it. As I was getting out of the car Sarah shouted at me, "Don't forget your Fat Face!". I didn't think anything of it til she stopped the car and wound down the window to clarify "I meant the shopping bag, not your actual face"!! I think I must have spent the first 20 mins of the workout laughing about how she thought she needed to clear up that she hadn't just blatantly insulted me as I was getting out of the car.
From here Dad collected me and brought me home and Doireann and Gary kindly dropped me out to Swords to meet up with Antoinette and Ciara. When I lived at home we usually only got to meet up a few times a year anyway and it was scary to think that we used to work together about 10 years ago or more! I got to see Antoinette's new home and her new dog too, who is very cute! We chatted and reminisced and laughed at the old times. Antoinette was the only person on my trip who told me not to come back. "Why would you come back here when you have a life in Melbourne?" she said.

After the goodbyes, Ciara said that she's drive me the 25 mins to my house as it was almost midnight. 15 mins into the journey I think she was regretting the decision as the Dublin girl didn't realise that I "lived in the sticks"! Now, I don't really live in the REAL countryside, but it's rural; yes. Some of the roads don't have markings on them and there are no streetlights, so this was pretty much the middle of nowhere for poor Ciara!! With all this running around I think I might be in need of a holiday when I do go back to Melbourne!

Day 18

Well I'm absolutely knackered now and didn't feel well this morning, so I just stayed at home and gave the gym a miss. Dex, Carlos, Shell and Sarah were going to The Avenue in Maynooth for lunch so I headed in and joined them. In typical Gran Canarian / Hispanic fashion, Carlos fell asleep at the table once he had eaten; we're so used to it now that we don't even pay any attention; apart from taking the odd photo of course :) It reminds me of the time when we were all in Copenhagen visiting Dex and Carlos and we went over to a friend of their's for dinner. After dinner Carlos fell asleep, so we decided to see how asleep her was and each got in and took a photo with him. In this photo he is the only one asleep, but it makes me laugh every time seeing how he didn't even notice us all climbing over him!!
When we were leaving we took a photo (where Sarah practiced having eyeballs as opposed to little holes in her face for photos!) outside on Maynooth Main Street and I love it. I love how it doesn't feel like 15 years since we left school, like 20 years of knowing each other?! I love how life has changed for each of us, but when we're together it's like it's never changed at all and we're still the immature, silly bunch of girls that used to eat take-away chips on the sly in the bathroom at school. Christmas is about family and friends, and I'm so lucky to have both. I love the feeling I get when I look at this photo; like I can count on having these girls as my friends for the rest of my life.

Day 19:

I decided to head into Dundrum Shopping Centre and brave the crowds for some "Me-Time" and to get an outfit to wear for New Year's Eve. It was busy but manageable and so I strolled round for a while and then thought I'd try see if I could catch Av on my way home, as I know she was home from England for Christmas. Another old school friend from 20 years ago who I may only see once a year when I was at home, but one who I know I can always count on for anything. I love this girl; I love how honest she is, but I mostly love how positive she remains in life. I love how she tries new things all the time, always appears so happy and fresh and isn't worried about stereotypical restraints or the confines of the norm. This girl goes to "Play-Group" for adults and loves Hula Hooping! I called into Avril and her parents for a bit and then we went down The Village (Celbridge) to catch up. Apart from a few attempts by some rare local specimen, we were left alone to catch up. Again it's so hard to fit everything into an evening. How can you summarise what's been happening in your life in a couple of hours? We made the best attempts at it and said our goodbyes; til the next time...wherever that may be!

Day 20:

Today was the first day that I took time out. Nothing eventful to add to today; I just chilled at home, played with Izzy and did some beauty treatments on Mam and Bhany. Some of the neighbours called round, so I spent time chatting to them; Felicity who gave me a very cute and thoughtful gift and Marie who had just become a Grandmother again that week!
Mis-timed the gym again so ended up calling into see Dex and her family as I was there. Arranged brekkie plans for the next day and said goodbye to her Mam, Dad and brother Sean who was filling me in on his nightmare renting episodes and cheering me up with some excellent examples of kid's homework that he had to correct over the holidays. Very funny - I'm sure that has to be one of the highlights of the job!
Picked up the Christmas Cake that I'd bought from Pauline at Pip's Homebakes AMAZING - you need to look into this girl; I've ordered about 10 cakes from her so far - so talented!!). I found her on Facebook, but in a weird and classically Irish chain of events, it turns out that I was in her sister's class in Secondary School and my brother did The Galway Cycle with her husband! I took the cake home and then accompanied Doireann out to Balbriggan to drop out some stuff for Gary who was at his Christmas Party. Home to bed.

Day 21

Wow - three weeks done and I still feel like I need another 3 months to get round to seeing everyone! Today was a jam-packed day, which made up for yesterday. Gym first thing at 7am where Billy put me through my paces and I nearly passed out. Home to shower and back into Maynooth to meet Dex and Carlos for brekkie to say goodbye. Some of the goodbyes seem weird as it's not me that's leaving yet, it's them; so it doesn't really feel real. I jumped on the train to town and bumped into Paul and his one of his children, so that was an added bonus, as I didn't think that I could bring myself to go back to Enfield just yet to where we used to live. We chatted for the journey and then I ran to Nassau Street to meet Niall for lunch, who I used to work with in Harris. He commented on how fast I was talking and that I do that when I'm nervous; and I remember that he knew me more than I ever even knew myself! It was so good to see him, even if it was only for a short while. He's all professional now and doing so well; although it's hard for me to see him like that when we used to go play pitch and putt or go on the rides at the Fair at lunch in work and be so sick after them that I had to go home! 
From here onto Grafton St to meet Lynn for some more ex-Melbourne chats. Again so normal to see her in Ireland even though we met in Melbourne. Another classically Irish moment was when we first met through hockey. I was the Secretary for the Club and she was texting me for some info. She must have mentioned to her husband that she was texting a "Ciara from Ireland" about the hockey; where he said "I know a Ciara from Ireland who plays hockey out here" only to find out that her husband Stuart used to sit beside me and work with me for 3 years when I worked for Northern Rock! What were the chances?! So, we caught up for a glass of wine and the few hours flew by as I updated her on all the "goss" from Melbourne. She looks amazing as always and living at home suits her; although she admittedly said she was dreading January when it would be summer in Melbourne and in the depths of depression in Ireland mid-winter.
I left Lynn with a goodbye hug and walked to Capel St to meet Mam, Dad, Bhany, Luke and Izzy for dinner. We had decided to come in and take a look at the Christmas lights in the city as it's kind of a tradition that we used to do. We headed out after eating our food and the Heaven's opened, soaking the lot of us as Luke and Bhany wrestled the buggy to get the waterproof cover on! I popped into Arnotts to see Antoinette and say goodbye to her and Harry. It's good to see her so happy. Thankfully the rain didn't last too long and we were able to walk up to Grafton Street again to see the lights before heading home. Due to my having come to Dublin earlier in the day, I had to "slum it" and get public transport home as there wasn't enough room in the car! 

 And so three weeks out of four are done with in the blink of an eye. I had to remind myself that this month snap-shot of Ireland isn't a true one; that it's Christmas and I'm home after a long time away. I had to remember that it wouldn't be like this the whole time, that everyone gets on with their lives and the country is still trying to recover from what its so-called leaders and people of "responsibility" did to it. That it's still hard. This month jam-packed with visits and trips wasn't a true reflection on what I was fearing that I would be missing when I went back to Melbourne. And yet still I felt there was something not quite right; that Ireland had changed somehow, I couldn't put my finger on it yet. Forever more to suffer from FOMO, especially at Christmas time, I had to just put it down to not being able to have everything; if it was easy to leave home then everyone would live in Melbourne, I am sure of it!!

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