Roughly eight months ago, my now husband and I, made the decision to move.
We were going to leave our life in Dublin for a quieter, more spread out one in Waterford City. Which, contrary to its claims is less a big city and more a small town.
For a couple in our late twenties, this change was predicted to have Earth shattering consequences. Before you think I’m exaggerating; a friend compared our move to the shifting of Tectonic plates.
How were we to occupy our evenings now? There are no sushi bars in Waterford.
What would we do on the weekends? The only concert here occurs annually and it’s the kind that kids are taken to and are encouraged to dance at.
What might happen to all our friends? Apparently, there are no people in Waterford either.
Our motivations for moving were simple; a housing crisis in Dublin, the lure of a better job, more money, a back garden for our dog and a desperate urge to run away from the doughnut shops popping up everywhere, around every bend.
For my husband, who grew up in a small fishing village in rural Ireland; the move wasn’t mountainous. If anything, Waterford felt more like home to him than any other place had before. For me, the silence was deafening.
I grew up in India, in Agra and Calcutta; both cities weighed heavily down by squished up houses held together by rubber bands and the will of their occupants. Where our neighbours’ lives were as good as mine, because their houses spilled into ours. When I moved to London, I felt at home there too. Lives there are lived in close quarters. That loneliness-in-crowd-feeling where I felt perfectly comfortable in the knowledge that if I paid attention on the Tube, I might feel someone’s elbow digging into my torso.
I was going to miss the sushi bars in Dublin and the risky midnight visits to Hyde Park, and that pub on Abbey Street with Donald Trump’s face on the wall of the toilets. I was going to miss the accurate bus schedule and the convenience of the tram and my friends being a few minutes away. I’d miss the open mic nights, poetry slams and bumping into Jack Gleeson in a bookstore, only to blush uncontrollably.
Waterford was nothing like anywhere else.
Here, the tallest building is three stories high.
Here, there is a part of a wall preserved from the 13th century, built by Vikings, running through the middle of a retail shop.
Here, people stop and listen to buskers. They drop change in their open guitar cases and step back so they can absorb those throaty Irish voices.
Here, the lady who runs the little ice cream shop by the beach, starts scooping when she sees me crossing the street; homemade pistachio.
Here there are pubs, where we are greeted with knowing grins from the greatest storytellers.
Sure if the weather stays like this it’ll not change.
This wind could cut the horns off a snail
Got a rake a work done out in the fields so I did
C’mere, Paddy Mahoney has a new car…he musta won the lotto
Here, I can walk to the beach, into a forest, or climb a hill, or sit by the docks in the middle of the day and in the middle of the week.
Here I can build a polytunnel in our garden and fill it with runner beans and tomatoes and bell pepper plants.
Now when I see the farmer with his Border Collie on his lap, driving a tractor past our house; I don’t just stare at him slack jawed. I wave back.