I’m going home to Dublin tonight. I haven’t been back since January, but that doesn’t quite count. I was with my Dad and moody and mostly ate chips in bed.
This time, I’m fortunate to stay in The Gresham (which just happened to be cheaper than The Holiday Inn this week despite being the only 4 star hotel I’ve ever booked in my life).
I’ve been avoiding going back to Dublin. Four years ago, nearly five, I lived in the city and met people unlike any other people I had ever known. They didn’t judge me, they didn’t pester me about my anti-social ways, and they loved me more deeply than I had ever believed possible.
Growing up from school to school and county to county, I didn’t have many friends. The few I did make, I struggled to keep when I inevitably moved away again. The perpetual new-girl, eventually I stopped trying to connect with people. I was weird and emotional and didn’t have married parents (which was a bigger deal when I was younger than it is now). I came from a family of abuse that not many could relate to even if I did somehow manage to open the tightly sealed shell I kept around myself.
When I moved to Dublin, things changed. For the first time I felt I had a home. To this day when people ask me where I’m from I’ll begrudgingly tell them where I was born and then somehow slip in that Dublin is my real home. A lot of what made this little city I only spent a year in feel like home were the people–the friendships I made there.
Later, when those friendships dissolved like sugar in rain, the heartbreak I felt was unparalleled. To some extent I can still see how I am left reeling from the effects of losing people I was sure would be in my life forever. I keep people at an arms length now in a way I didn’t before. I expect them to leave me, not the other way around.
I get the odd Facebook salute of “we should catch up!” and “let me know when you’re in town!”, but largely I’ve dropped below the radar. One of my best friends at the time got married and didn’t invite me to the wedding. He’ll be having his first child next month, someone told me. We haven’t spoken in years.
At this point I’m fine with it. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but the fact that I can write this without crying is some progress. I’m a different person than I was when they knew me. They’d recognise my face, but not much else. Dublin is different, too. More violent I hear. More construction everywhere.
I’m not afraid to go home anymore, wondering if I’ll see one of them in the street and they’ll stop me as if I don’t still have splinters in my heart from the ease of their abandonment. I’ve got new friends. Maybe they’ll last, maybe they won’t. People grow up and grow apart. There’s no such thing as forever, and for the first time that doesn’t make me as sad as it once did.