Niamh at Irish Wanderings asked me to do a guest post. I tell no lie. Believe me when I say, I was as shocked as you are. But I was also delighted and excited. Do toddle over to Niamh is a world traveler with a great blog. Check out my little meander down the memory lane.
I worked in one of the few Dublin Civil Service offices populated with more Dubs than cultchies! I was one of the four from the office who engaged in the mass exodus out of Dublin on Friday evenings. Carrying my little red weekend case, that had been carefully packed the night before.
In order to catch the 6:25PM train, it was necessary to leave the Ballsbridge office at three. You may wonder why! Well let me tell you, if you wanted a seat on the Waterford train, these were the measures you had to take.
The journey started catching a bus on the Quay. As the double decker pulled closer to Hueston Station people began bustling in an effort to be first off the bus. Because of this I never went upstairs. It was difficult enough to descend the one step onto the street in an upright position. Once safely off the bus I made my way towards the station to join the queues for a ticket window. This often snaked out of the station and around the corner, very unpleasant if it was raining. I could never figure out how people who had gotten off the bus behind me were ahead of me in the ticket queue.
We were like the Flight of Geese, all trying to get ourselves out of the Pale as fast as we could on a Friday. With purchased train ticket in hand it was time to locate the platform. Hoping the massively long queue was not for your train and of course it usually was. At this stage it would have been about 4-4:30.
Joining this queue, I would consider myself lucky if I was still within site of the platform. Recently I took a Ryan Air flight, which is what put me in mind of my weekend jaunts home all those years ago. Except the train queues were about five times longer! Shortly before the train was to depart, two rather grumpy CIE ticket punchers took positions on either side of the barrier gate. Again somehow people who had been in the queue behind me were ahead of me walking the platform towards the train. Girls reached back past my face and over my shoulder to pull their many friends up ahead in the queue. There were rowdy young fellas who would try to use you as a step ladder in their efforts to get to the barrier gate. The objective of course was to get a seat. If I didn’t get a seat I could be standing all the way to Carlow or worse still, it could be Kilkenny before a seat became available.
I hated getting on the train and finding one seat vacant with the three others occupied by friends or worse fellas. Feeling like an intruder taking the lone seat they obliviously hoped would be filled by someone they knew. My hope was to find an empty table of seats and sit by the window. I was more comfortable when others joined me. I would dig into my shopping bag grabbing the Irish Press and work on the crossword while waitng for the train to depart. Later if the snack trolley rattled along I would have my few pence ready to purchase a cup of tea and munch the bread roll I had brought with me. Once I finished my little snack, I would pull out the new book I had chosen for the journey.
When the train finally pulled into Plunkett Station,Waterford there was a bus to catch. There were familiar faces on this leg of the journey that couldn’t be seen in the Hueston crush. Everyone excited, relating the plans for the remainder of Friday night and all the hoped for plans for Saturday. The bus was filled with great anticipation. So despite the hassle of exiting Dublin you arrived home floating on a cloud of joy and expectation. The return to Dublin on Sunday evening too far away to dampen the enthusiasm that bounced along on the bus.
Cultchie is any person from outside Dublin
"The Pale" what us cultchies refered to Dublin as! A historical reference to Dublin.
After weeks deliberating and weighing all the pros and cons the time had come to make a decision. The big move was on and over the next few weeks there was a mountain of paperwork to fill out . So many things to organize. Shipping, movers and flights to book. People to contact, accounts to close, so much to do and the weeks were flying by.
It was all very exciting. A wind whirl of activity kept my mind occupied. And then the movers arrived. They came into the house and I directed them into the sitting room. I pointed out the furniture to pack and the furniture we would leave behind. The foreman directed two of his men to wrap up the sofa and it hit me. All of a sudden the enormity of this undertaking gripped my stomach. I was afraid. Fear had crept up and clenched my insides in a vice grip hold. What was I doing? Was I crazy? What made me think I could survive or make good in America? Why was I doing this, leaving my home, leaving all I knew and loved. I felt like a blind person walking along the piers edge. My stomach lurched.
The tickets were bought and now half our belongings were on the movers truck. I don‘t want to go. I want to stay in my beautiful house, surrounded by all I knew and loved. I can‘t do this. I dashed out into the hall and shouted at the moving men, “STOP! Don‘t take another thing out of this house.” Tears streaming down my face. The two men in the hallway stopped dead in their tracks looking at me with shocked disbelief. The foreman walked towards me, placed a comforting hand on my shoulder, turned to the his men and said, “Put it down lads, it’s time for a tea break.” Turning back to me a look of understanding on his face, he said, “I know this is hard Missus. I see it more than I care to say. Take a bit of time, you can let us know what you have decided after the tea break.”
I thanked the kind man and went into the kitchen, turned on Mozart made myself a cup of tea and wondered what had just happened. Incoherent thoughts buzzing in my head. What is wrong with you? Pull yourself together for Gods sake. Everything is in place. The tickets are bought, the movers are paid the visas are ready. This decision was made with a clear head, there is no turning back now. It’s not like you will never be home again. Life will be good. You see yourself doing well, you feel it in your bones so stop sniveling. Let the men do their job. Yes but what if I’m wrong. What if I fail. What if I don’t make a success of this. You will go to America and have a wonderful life adventure and when you come back you will be the better for it. The moving foreman stuck his head through the kitchen door. A quick intake of breath as I raised my hand to my mouth in embarrassment, had I been thinking out loud?
“Well Missus, have you decided?” he asked. I took a deep gulp of my tea, swallowing hard and conjuring up as much false confidence as I could muster I said, “Yes, thank you. Finish the packing. We are going to America.”
Two years ago Husband was diagnosed with diabetes. Fortunately his sugar levels were borderline. He received a blood sugar monitor to record the readings of his blood twice a day, a requirement for his next doctor’s appointment. He spent an afternoon with a diabetes dietitian who informed him of the ideal foods and diet. During this conversation it became clear to the dietitian the meals at home fulfilled these requirements. On further investigation the nurse unveiled the diet culprits. He finally admitted to the junk food, biscuits, ice-cream and crisps etc. he ate on the sly.
The doctor's diagnosis frightened him. He needed to exercise, cut the excess and bad foods from his diet and lose weight. Everything I nagged him about for years. According to the doctor it was still possible to get his blood levels under control with diet and exercise, eliminating the need for medications. That very evening we headed to Sears and bought an Elliptical exercise machine. On getting it home and set-up he started a daily exercise regime. The first few days he managed five breathless minutes of exercise working up to ten minutes and then to fifteen minutes. He was delighted with his progress. The junk food went by the wayside. He started reading food labels, checking the sugar and fat content. The sugar filled biscuits were replaced with ginger snaps. Processed sandwich meats were replaced with home cooked meats and ice cream became a stranger to our freezer.
On his return visit to the doctor, he had lost over ten pounds. He was looking and feeling great. More importantly the sugar levels were down. He held fast to the plan for the next six months and lost another ten pounds. He continued regular checkups with the doctor, his diabetes health nurse and dietitian. Then it happened. The doctor informed him he was one of her success stories. She gave him a virtual clap on the back. Big Mistake. Arriving home from the doctor’s he told me his blood levels were under control and he was cured.
I was delighted with this good news but pointed out he wasn't cured. He needed to stay with the regime to insure his continued health. I might as well have been talking to the wall. Slowly the junk food and ice cream made its comeback. Granted the ice cream was a low fat variety. He has not gone back to the processed meats; I still roast meat each week for his sandwiches. Sweets are still banished from the house, but whenever shopping he plops a Twix or Kit Kat amongst the healthy groceries. The Elliptical machine is gathering dust and all the weight he lost last year has returned. He hasn't checked his blood sugar levels in months and when I ask him about it, he indignantly informs me he is cured. He hasn't seen the doctor in ages, but today I made an appointment for him. It is not that I want him to be ill, but I do hope the doctor gives him a stern talking too! Because only that will put him back on track. He only hears what he wants to hear. If he is told he is doing well, in his mind it translates to you are cured. As I explained to the doctor when I telephoned this morning, years ago he had his gallbladder removed and I told him he would have to watch the fat intake in his diet. He asked the surgeon as I sat there beside him, if he needed to exclude anything from his diet. The surgeon said "No, you can eat anything within reason." My heart sank as I heard these words fall from the surgeon’s mouth because as I feared all he heard was He Could Eat Anything. I think this doctor got the picture! He is in for one big surprise!!!
I didn't know what time of the day I had. As I waited for the kettle to boil, I switched on the television. A loud startling snap took me by surprise. I remembered, she had told me not to plug in any two appliances at one time. Had I blown a fuse? I wrapped the cord of my long cotton robe tightly around my body and made my way down the two flights of worn stone medieval steps of the Uffizi apartment in search of the main fuse box. After much huffing and two trips up and down I managed to get the electricity back on. Marveling at this feat and realizing I had no idea how I had accomplished it. Sipping my tea I read through the information binders again. The morning was wearing on, time was ticking by. It dawned on me I was delaying. I was afraid? I was afraid to venture out the door? My courage and determination seemed to have deserted me. How would I find my way around? Where would I go, what would I do. What made me think I could spend ten days in Florence all by myself? It was all so easy in planning, but now what? Finally I called myself to order. It was time to stop blubbering. Take a bath, get dressed and start living your dream, I chided myself.
The refreshing bath did its magic, alleviating my fears and nervousness. I was ready to take on the world. Until I encountered my next obstacle. I was unable to remove the bath stopper, resulting in frustrated tears. Heat started to slowly inch up my neck and face. Why are these simple tasks always so difficult for me? Sweat was gushing from every pore now. So much for my relaxing bath... Wrapped in an oversized bath towel I padded downstairs to get a butter knife. Maybe if I could get the knife under the seam of the stopper, it would come up. The only thing I succeeded in doing was having another hot flash. Another bath was needed. Maybe a sewing needle would do the trick. There was one in the vanity drawer. I abandoned this idea. The needle would probably break in my hand and do me damage. I didn’t want to end up in an emergency room on the first day of my Grand Adventure. I was getting nowhere. It was time to walk away from the full bathtub and in true Scarlet O’Hara fashion; I declared, I would think about it tomorrow. Well later anyway.
My first day had not started well. I had struggled with the keys. Blown the fuses and I spent half the morning peering into the fuse box, praying for divine intervention. Adding to my woes was the unpluggable bath!
I had to shake it off. Taking a deep breath, I walked out the door, slamming it firmly behind me. Things could only get better! The first morning of living my dream had been a frustrating one. It had reduced me to tears and foul language more than once. But when I walked out onto the street the glories of the city surrounded me. I needn't have worried, whatever direction I turned, I would be heading in the right direction. I spent my first day in Florence, just walking, soaking in my surroundings. I had made it. I was finally here. It was a perfect day after all.
I just can't believe it. These past six months have flown by in lightening like speed. It feels like only last week I was having heart palpations as I deliberated on clicking the publish button on my first post, Blogging, The Way To Go. I searched out and read a number of blogs feeling very intimidated by the professional look and content. The writerly achievements of those bloggers made me wonder if I was getting in above my head.
I am thrilled to have discovered this generous community. I feel privileged to read and comment on your wonderful blogs. I have had great feed back and wonder upon wonder I have even clocked up some followers. Every time my follower count increases, the euphoria of having just received the most wonderful longed for present fills me. I get positively giddy. This is my fortieth post. Yesterday I also had forty followers, but alas I lost one in the last 24 hours. Hey Ho! To my thirty-nine followers a great big "Thank you!" and to any future followers, Welcome!
James Dickey said,"There are so many selves in everybody, and to explore and exploit just one is wrong, dead wrong." Thank you for joining me as I strive to discover those other selves. I hope you enjoy reading my endeavours. I would be delighted to hear your comments and feedback. You all come back now hear! Ann
I am a wife and mother of four, made redundant by children who insisted on growing up. I divide my time between Wisconsin and Ireland. I am a writer, who has finally decided it’s time to brave the big scary world and try to get something published. I hope you enjoy my efforts!