Sunday, 20 October 2013

Any which way but lose...

We've had a lot of time to think over these last couple of months. Too much time you might say. Indeed, as a good friend tells us, that’s generally the start of our problems – when we begin to think that is.

That ‘advice’ aside, our return to the home soil was always shrouded in doubts and questions as to what we would do once the chief reason we came back for was over. A big factor in this was that we were leaving a place, Colombia, where despite the many virtues it had – and has –  for us (see, from a work point of view it hadn't really got us too excited (that’s not to mention the very modest financial returns that accompanied said employment – we’ll say no more on that for a number of reasons).
Picturesque west of Ireland bog lands
Back to basics, back to the bog. Or should that be Bogotá?

However from early on in our ‘sojourn’ home, we pretty much convinced ourselves that we wouldn't be staying for any considerable length of time. We've been feeling we’re just not ready to relocate to Ireland right now. Much of that may be due to the fact of where we are. Back under the parents’ roof for what is now the longest period of time in over five years, extremely grateful as we are not to be paying rent, in a rural Ireland suffering from a pretty dramatic youth-drain whilst having no gainful employment*. These points conspire to ensure our social life doesn't come close to what it has been like over the last number of years.

The bounce we got from coming home and catching up with family and remaining friends has waned considerably. Rather than feeling re-energised, we’re fast becoming drained. Of course there may be an element of a self-fulfilling prophecy in all of this. We expected Ireland not to deliver for us, so we've done little to counteract that. We envisaged ourselves leaving again, so in one sense not doing so would be a comedown. Basically, we've enjoyed not being in Ireland. We've become comfortable being the emigrant, the ‘outsider’.

There’s even a hint of embarrassment for us now when we meet people, “oh, you’re still here.  We thought you’d be gone by now.” So did we, so did we.

Being in a house where RTÉ Radio One (the Irish state broadcaster) is the station of choice doesn't help things either – if you’re feeling a bit too happy in yourself, an hour’s listening to this will see you ‘right’. Perhaps it's just reflecting the general mood of the nation? In any case, with our political, critical and at times cynical nature, we’re just the type of listener Radio One sucks in. We ignore the health warnings and indulge to dangerous levels. Changing that dial, both physically and mentally, is proving to be quite a difficult task.

In a more benign way our attitude towards Ireland could be compared to a mother who wants her little Johnny to be the best he can be and is at times overly critical and demanding of him. Sometimes though, it’s best to leave Johnny to his own devices.

12th of July 'fun' in Belfast
Belfast's 'exotic' side
We've been here before of course. In 2009 when we returned home after a year of travelling, it wasn't too long before we started looking for the exit doors again. As it turned out, a speculative job application came good and we found ourselves Belfast bound. Considering we’d never been to that city before, it did offer freshness and its own ‘exoticness’ (don’t laugh) for a ‘Free-Stater’**. The small bit of the queen’s pound that came our way was well received too. In any case it staved off the wanderlust for a while.

So, you ask, why are we still here? Well trying to get a work visa for Colombia, the default ‘go-to’ right now, has proved to be a convoluted process; although an end does appear to be in sight. Alongside this, an unsolicited, potential job offer has come our way too. Given the employment plight of many Irish people these days, we feel at the very least that whatever may be on the table merits some serious thought.

Here we go again though – back to ‘thinking’. Was that not our problem in the first place? The tried and trusted coin-toss is beginning to look like the best solution to our predicament.

*For more on that 'youth-drain', see previous post No country for young men at

**A 'Free-Stater' is a term of, erm, 'endearment' used by Northern Ireland residents in reference to people from the Republic of Ireland, which was previously known as the Irish Free State.

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