“I never expected just how quickly a place can become a home, but when you find it, you know. I think this is only the beginning of our story together. I’ll always be finding my way back.”
These were the words that I wrote on 25 July 2018, when my year of living in Ireland came to a close. I’ve moved around a lot in my life, so by nature I’ve always been itching for new adventures. But I was surprised to find how easily my heart broke at the thought of ever having to leave Ireland. I remember sitting on the floor of my room, crying along to the Dubliners instead of packing. I didn’t have a way to stay past the one year my working holiday visa allowed, but I struggled to come to terms with the worst break-up I’d experienced to date. Dublin was the first home I had built for myself and suddenly the girl who was constantly running away wanted to stay.
I decided to fight for this dream I had because it was the first thing in my life I’d ever felt so sure about. And maybe that was futile but I didn’t care. I decided to go back to school. If I couldn’t find a job that would sponsor my visa yet, I would go get the skills I needed to convince them. But Ireland didn’t have the program I needed so I found my way to Scotland instead. Hell, it was cheaper than getting a postgraduate degree in the States. And I loved it there too. I began to think I’d be happy staying wherever would have me.
There were a lot of times over the past year where I wondered if I was fighting the wrong fight, and that the student loans and long distance relationships I’d taken out would never pay off. That maybe it was time to go home and move on to something new. I had graduated in November and spent four months applying to some three hundred jobs to no avail. Rootless, I was happy to go anywhere – but Brexit loomed over the market in Scotland and England and no one wanted to deal with immigration with that uncertainty, especially not for a graduate. By the end of last year, I was ready to book a one-way flight back to Chicago. I was surprised to find that I missed the city when I visited over Christmas, and sure maybe the universe had always been leading me back here. Living abroad was just a detour, a fun anecdote I’d tell for the rest of my life. But though the idea was comfortable and surely moving home had its upsides, I still felt like it was served with a side of defeat.
But then, in a last ditch effort perusing the Irish consulate’s website, I found something tucked away in the FAQs. It said that you can apply for Ireland’s working holiday visa more than once if you requalify. I had gone back to school, meaning that I was once again a recent graduate, and I requalified. Once confirmed, my application was in the mail. Granted, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do – moving back to Ireland wasn’t without its challenges. Housing is expensive and hard to find in Dublin, and I didn’t have a job lined up. I had moved to Ireland in 2017 after working and saving up my pennies – this time I’d be returning a graduate with the debts that came along with that. Honestly, any sane person would tell me the logical thing to do would be to go home. But I didn’t want to be logical. I had to make one last go of it. And if I failed, then at least I tried. But I hadn’t come this far just to give up early. With a stiff upper lip I packed my life into my suitcases once again.
It’s funny when the universe has a plan for you. I arrived in Dublin on the 10th of January and checked myself into n room in an airbnb, feeling a little scared and uprooted but ready to hustle. I had a couple of house viewings and an interview lined up. And then… by the end of the week, I had found a flat. By Monday, I had my dream job. Everything fell into place so fast it seemed too good to be true. It’s been a month now and I’m still pinching myself every day. After a long drought of anxiety and doubt, I have never been so happy. I’m rediscovering a city I once knew like the back of my hand, and falling for it all over again.
I spent so long wondering where I was supposed to be that I forgot to just trust the process. There was a plan all along – I truly believe this. I wasn’t supposed to stay in Glasgow. I know that because my heart didn’t break when I left it like it had before – we were only ever supposed to be good friends. I wasn’t supposed to move to London, or Manchester, or New York or Chicago. My road rose up to meet me, and it led me right back to Dublin.
So now here I am, two years later, picking up where I left off. Chapter three. Ireland, revisited.
Good luck getting rid of me this time.