Great Expectations 

Limerick is not Dublin.

Dublin is home. The noise and clamour made barely noticeable by the briny stench of the Liffey. The electric blip of the street signs unleash floods of people in every colour. Birds sit on statues of rebellious heroes. They scream, but they’re drowned out by smoggy busses.

Limerick is not Dublin. Dublin is not Dublin.

Dublin is a memory from a girl who no longer exists in a city that once was all she needed. I changed, but I hoped everything else would stay the same. Frozen in soft-focused nostalgia.

These past few weeks have been hard. I yearned for independence and I got it. Like a child wishing for a false something-like-adulthood, I discovered independence was not what I had dreamed it to be.

My roommate is lovely. A Chinese girl who struggles through her conversations with me–translating her words into ones I can understand. I think she’s so brave. My classmates have been amazing, too. I love being surrounded by other writers. But they’re not friends yet. We smile politely, but we go home and we don’t text each other. I think of them at night. I wonder where they go home to. I wonder if they think of me, lonely and dark.

Limerick is not Dublin.

I haven’t felt that feeling of ‘home’ since I left Dublin in 2014. I thought just coming back to Ireland would fix that, but it’s not the same. Nothing is the same. I don’t have friends this time, they’ve long since stopped answering my calls. I’m struggling financially and public transport is a little less than ideal. I don’t know when I can go home—wherever that is.

Dating has been a joke. I had dreamt up my Irish romance. He’d have a sweet smile, dark hair. He’d invite me home for Christmas. Instead I find myself face to face with disgusting men fetishising my body and my skin colour. I know they’re not all Ireland has to offer, but I still seem to attract their sort like rotting meat attracts flies. There have been some nice men, too, tangled up in obligations, ghosts, and mindless small-talk, but they were nice to talk to for a while. None of them have been my dream man.

And that’s the point–it all has felt like a romanticised dream I had had and now that I’m awake there’s no reconciling reality with the happiness I had hoped for. I feel stupid for expecting so much. I had made a utopia in my mind without even realising it. And worse, I expected it to be there when I opened my eyes.

I’m trying to live moment by moment now, but in my heart I know I’m still mourning the dream that was killed by reality. I wanted so badly to believe that I only needed to go back to find happiness again.

Now I know there is no such thing as backwards. There is only forwards. There is a blessing in that vast empty unknown between our next page and the conclusion of our story. The blessing is only hope. It has to be enough. It has to. It is our great expectation, and we move forward and seek it.