Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Thirteen memories

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On Friday, I will be celebrating the thirteen's anniversary of my move to Ireland. I can't possibly remember everything that happened during all those years, but I will share a few of my fondest memories. Some experiences were good, others were frustrating at the time but looking back I'd rather laugh than cry, and there are some funny ones as well. So here it goes, a little summary of what happened to me during the past 13 years...

1. The day I arrived

My host family had offered to pick me up at the airport but I didn't understand it at the time, so I said I would take a taxi. The taxi didn't know where he was going (or pretended, I'll never know...) so I paid a small fortune to get to my destination. I arrived at the address and there was nobody there. After freaking out for 15 minutes, the dad of the house showed up and told me he was at the airport... It was the first misunderstanding of a long series...

2. Trying to find the post office in Malahide

This post office is like the best hidden place in the village. Seriously, it took me an hour to find it, and just when I was going to give up, a lovely old man gave me directions. When he saw how puzzled I still was, he took my hand and walked me there. It was at the back of a key cutting shop, under a supermarket, near an underground car park. Nope, I wouldn't have found it on my own.

3.The Grove

The pub where I met my husband. The pub where I got drunk for the first time, drinking flamed Sambuka. The pub where I used to meet my friends after work. The pub where I had my last cigarette before the smoking ban... Ah memories... It's such a shame it's closed down now.

4. My first Christmas in Ireland

This first Christmas set the tone for a tradition we repeated almost every year since. We decided to spend Christmas Eve with all our friends who were not going home. We ate, we drank and at midnight everyone received a small present.

5. Wild house parties

Have you ever woken up to find strangers sleeping in the corridor or under your kitchen table? House parties can get a bit crazy alright... There's usually Vodka jelly or Fat Frogs involved, and when there's not enough space in the fridge anymore, all drinks are thrown in the bathtub, covered in ice (although the wheelie bin is another option). The Irish do know how to throw a good party...

6. Meeting people from all over the world

I have met people from all corners of the world and even if I don't travel as much as I would like to, discovering so many cultures has definitely broaden my horizon. And if we want to visit another country, we'll always know a local to help us out!

7. Getting stuck on the M50

Or should I say, the "car park". The first four years of my Irish life were spent driving daily through that nightmare of a motorway. Once I got stuck in a traffic jam for four hours, due to flooding. This is the first and only time I saw the toll barriers up. That day, I really thought I was going to spend the night in my car.

8. Our landlord

When I hear horror stories about friends who had problems with their landlord, all I can say is we were very lucky. I mean, the man gave us presents for Christmas and chocolate eggs for Easter. The day we came back from a 3 weeks holiday, there was a bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine on the table with a little note "Welcome home". He came to our wedding in Ireland and in France (we also went to his). He drove for an hour to give us a spare key when we locked ourselves out. He helped us apply for a a mortgage, he let us use his van when we moved out and even gave us some furniture.
This man deserves a medal.

9. The day we queued for 8 hours at the garda station

The joy of being married to a non-European meant that before Fabrice got his Irish citizenship, I had to accompany him to his visa renewal, you know, just to prove that we were married. One year, we had no choice but to wait 8 hours to get the paperwork sorted, the reason being we were going abroad and he might not have been let back in the country! The immigration officer in the Garda station was also going on holidays, which meant pretty much every foreigner in Drogheda showed up on that day. We were there from 11am until 7pm, and it was so badly organized that if you left the queue, you lost your place, so we had to take turns to go for a smoke or buy a sandwich. It makes for a great story now, but at the time I was fuming.

10. A week-end in West Cork

My best friend came to Ireland for a 2 weeks holiday but was staying in West Cork. I really wanted to see her, so I drove 8 hours to get there (with a stop in Cork airport to pick her up). We spend the evening in Crookhaven, and camped in the local pub back garden. The following morning we had an Irish breakfast, visited Mizen Head and I headed back to Dublin. Another 8 hours drive and I was finally home. I've done crazy things for my friends, but this one tops everything I think.

11. My hen party in Temple Bar

Yes it does sound cliche, but my French friends and my sister being over for the celebration, we had to do it there. It wasn't disappointing. I had to sell lollipops and condoms to passer-by and to my surprise, encountered a great success. Enough to buy a few rounds to my friends anyway. Everybody was congratulating me on my wedding and  we got free drinks in every pub we went to. My friends had the time of their life and I'm glad they got to experience a different type of hen party!

12. Friends coming back to visit

I'm always happy when a friend who moved back home decides to pay us a visit. It makes me feel good and realise that even though we don't live in the same country anymore, they haven't forgotten us or Ireland altogether. Actually, I don't know anybody who didn't like Ireland! That's probably why they always come back.

13. Dublin airport

I've passed through Dublin airport more times than I can remember, either as a passenger or to greet family and friends and I've always thought there was something special about airports. For me, it's a place full of emotions where joy and sadness coexist. And these emotions pretty much sum up my feelings about being an expat.