An Excerpt from a Memoir.
This morning I woke feeling much the same as when I'd gone to bed. Discontent.
I did however, have a fantastic dream about Greece. In my dream everyone was fabulous! Very dark black hair and eyebrows and beautiful Romanesque features. All the Greek women were incredibly well dressed, smart and chic. I remember I was trying to get a job as a rabbit keeper. There was a rabbit hutch, that also sold ice cream, situated in a huge Multiplex cinema, as was the normal custom in Greek cinemas. I so adored the rabbits that I decided I would stay and take over from the old Greek man who was leaving his position. It was exciting, there was much to learn!
I awoke from this Island getaway just as we were entering the city Plaza. Goudi-esque buildings lined the rectangular space. I walked up the grey slab steps to see a woman training seagulls that would copy her exact movements. I stopped to watch, smiling in fascination. The gulls suddenly took flight and as they fluttered in a frenzy I woke up.
Back in my bedroom.
My eyes begin to take in my surroundings; a bright light shining through the window, the sound of birds chirping outside. I stretch and gradually my mind floats back into my body as it shifts from its deep slumber. It is at this point the same familiar feeling of dread washes over me. As if I'm waking up after a night of heavy drinking and all the memories of the bad decisions I made come flooding back. I sigh deeply and roll over disgruntled, not wanting to accept the reality that is my life.
I start to be able to feel all the places my body aches; that niggle I know all too well in my left forearm, my aching hips, my stiff painful feet, that same creaky spine and of course the relentless twitching. In the last two months every morning has been very similar to this. Some days are better but most are the same. It began almost a year ago now. This downward spiral into my sad little existence.
I was living in Spain at the time. I had been selected (along with one other) to take part in a Da Vinci Program placement. We were sent to teach windsurfing for a German company called Club Mistral in Tarifa. The idea was that we would gain first hand knowledge and experience of how windsurfing was taught abroad, bring these skills home and apply them to centers across Ireland. For us though, it was really just a two month paid holiday.
I remember arriving in Dublin airport to meet James, the other participant. James was a young guy, fresh out of school and eager, ready for anything. He seemed nervous when I arrived. We sat down in one of the airport cafes, our luggage piled around our seats. There was an air of anticipation, of adventure around us and a feeling of being separate from the rest of the holiday-goers. We were going to live in Spain, not visit. James was fidgeting in his seat and proceeded to tell me he'd “been out for three nights and ended up sleeping in an abandoned house” the night before. This explained why he was so on edge. He then asked if I “had any tobacco”. I apologized, explaining that I'd quit a year ago.
To me, James was a typical profile of so many young people in Ireland. We were divided in our culture, perhaps in every culture but it seemed more apparent in Ireland. Perhaps because it is a small country. From what I had experienced growing up, there were three 'groups'. There was the 'hippie' kids; children of the English hippies who'd fled during the reign of Maggie Thatcher for a 'better life in the country'. Then you had the 'GAA' kids. Sport fanatic parents screaming them on at the sidelines of every village football match, the referees pocketing massive amounts of government funding put towards ''keeping our heritage alive” rather than fixing the roads. Then the 'normal' kids. Those poor unfortunate few born into relatively non-dysfunctional families that had to be stuffed in with the rest of us come secondary school.
In my younger years I fell into the 'hippie' kids category. Maybe I still did? My Mother had escaped England in 1997 (when I was four) for her dream life as an artist in the wild hills. There was something particularly melancholy about our 'group'. As if we were carrying on the traditions of an older generation that had no place in our time. Still we did it; the drugs, the parties, the 'rock n roll' lifestyle. When I hit eighteen I realized it wasn't for me.
Waking up on a grubby mattress, neon psychedelic hangings all around in a circular wooden shed outside someones house on the side of a mountain in West Cork. Other bodies lining the couches, beanbags, benches, anything that in some way resembled a bed. The repetitive beat still playing, some people, drug fueled, still up dancing to what can only be described as one noise being played over and over with the occasional build up, a pause, only to start again. The smell of bonfire and wet ground wafting in the door. An unfamiliar boy passed out next to me. You get the picture.
Thats not to say that I didn't enjoy my teenage years and all those nights spent dancing in the rain. Of course I did! It was just everything that I was trying to move forward from – my youth and naivety. And now it was following me to Spain to live, eat and s**t with me for two months. 'Great', I thought.