I had a really lovely moment the other day. I had to run into town with the kids, and as we were walking back to the car we passed the place I worked in when we first moved to Galway. Well actually, we passed where it was, because like so many others, it’s now gone (Kenny’s Bookshop for those who know Galway). Anyway, as we walked past, a couple of buskers were outside who have also been wandering Galway at least as long as I have, and it took me right back the ten years to when I used to work there.
Things were so, so different then. I was heartbreakingly lonely, but I wasn’t even aware of it. I was also depressed, and similarly not aware of it. When I think back on my time there, I actually feel sick. Not because it was a bad place to work, but because I think that’s just mostly how I felt at the time. Sick, anxious, depressed and so, so lonely.
It’s just occurred to me that I’ve never actually written about that time before, or how we came to be in Galway in the first place. When we came here first, Hubby (then Boyfriend) and I, had been together just over two years. We ended up in Galway by chance – I had been working in the National Museum in Dublin, he in a library, and both our contracts expired at the same time. We basically agreed that wherever one of us got a job, the other would follow. Hubby landed a really good job, and so we came west. Initially we thought it would be for six months or so. I had no job, at that point my career was as a field archaeologist (yes, really)……..
|My first dig site|
………..and there was no work in Galway, so for our first couple of months here I was home, alone, with no job, no car, and no friends, living in a suburb of a city I didn’t know. We were renting a small granny flat, and there was construction work going on outside (of course there was, it was 2004), so I spent my days listening to the pile driver outside breaking bedrock. To this day every time I hear that sound it takes me right back to that time. I was miserable.
Eventually, I landed my job in the bookshop, where I stayed for a good year and a half. Looking back, I can see I was really lost at that time. My career had floundered, and I was totally isolated. Other than colleagues we knew no one apart from each other, and I didn’t have the confidence to do anything to change that. I remember one time in particular, my folks came to visit and met me on lunch before heading home. I went back to work heartbroken, and struggling to keep it together. There was another time, when my sister sent me a present of a cardi she knew I’d like – I went to pieces. And so it went.
But all that time, I didn’t think there was anything wrong. I knew I wasn’t happy, but I’m not sure I had ever really been happy up to that point, so I assumed that’s just how I was. It never occurred to me to look for help, because it never occurred to me that anything might be wrong.
Wow, that was an epic digression. I had no idea when I started this post that this is where it would end up!! So what was my lovely moment the other day? As I walked past where Kennys used to be with my kids, I had this sense of pure love and joy. If you had asked me ten years ago, I never, in a million years, would have imaged what my future would be, that someday I would walk past the shop with these two amazing little people that I had helped to create. It struck me with such force that I actually had to stop and give them a hug, because at that moment I realised just how much has changed, and how far I have come. That aching loneliness that I felt then is gone, utterly and completely. I’m at home here. I have a gorgeous, chaotic, loving family. I have amazing friends. Ok, I also have my challenges, but for the most part, I’m managing them.
If you had told 24 year old me what the next ten years would bring, warts and all, would I change anything? Would I run? I can’t answer that for sure, but right now, I don’t think I’d change anything, despite all the hardship. Because all of it, every single second, has brought me to where I am now. And where I am now is really quite a lovely place to be.