Notes on the City

This morning was taken up with a journey to Dublin, a city I used to traverse every day, and a place I know very well.  For the last few weeks, however, I’ve had very little need to go anywhere near it, which I feel is no great loss.  I’ve had a mixed relationship with Dublin for years now; I went through cycles of hating the place with a passion, followed by years of utter devotion, over and over again during my adult life.  I think, now, that the fluctuations in my feelings about Dublin mapped my changing feelings about my life and myself, more than anything else.  The more secure I felt as an individual, the more I loved living in Dublin, and during those times when my confidence was at a low ebb, I couldn’t bear the pace of life there and I often felt a desperate need to escape.  I’m beginning to see that things have shifted for me now – at the moment, I’m glad to say that I feel happier than ever before about life, and I’m pretty sure part of that happiness is down to the fact that I’m not living in the city any more.

Dublin’s not a huge city, by any means, but when I was new to it I felt like it was the throbbing heart of the universe.  I’m a little more blasé towards it now – these days the streets of Dublin have more to say about poverty than they do about power.  Walking through the city today, I was struck by how much deprivation I saw.  There are far more people living on the streets than there were when I first moved there, and the air carries whispers of sadness and desperation – the whole place seems on edge, like a dog waiting for the next blow from a cruel master.

But perhaps I’m being over-dramatic.  Ireland, as a whole, is suffering economically, so maybe it makes sense that its capital city – where the majority of the country’s population lives – displays a huge portion of the pain.  All I know is, when I’d finished my business there, I couldn’t get myself to the train station fast enough.  The further away I got, and the greener the view from the train window became, the happier my heart felt.  It’s funny to have such a strong relationship with one’s capital city – even though I don’t live there, it still casts a long shadow over how I feel about my life.  Once upon a time, the journey to Dublin felt like freedom; now, leaving it feels like coming home.  I guess I’m just a small-town girl at heart…

In case you’re wondering, I was in Dublin today to drop off my entry to the writing competition I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts.  It feels good to know my entry has been submitted and that my journey – away from Dublin, perhaps, but toward my new life – has begun in earnest.

3 thoughts on “Notes on the City

  1. Chrissi Barr

    Your words on Dublin are sad. I have been to Ireland twice in my life. 1987 and Jan 2012. I felt Dublin was suffering as it was in 1987. I missed the boom between those years and sadly that has probably made matters worse as it was so artificial and can never happen again. On a positive note I saw a substantial improvement in the north. Belfast was very traumatised in 1987 and now it has a wonderful vibrancy about it, but still my cousins, now distant, have all migrated as generations have before them. I am glad you are finding happiness in your writing and I wish you the best of luck with your entry in the writing competition.

    Reply
    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thank you for your thoughts and your good wishes – I appreciate them both! I should have added in my post yesterday that Dublin wasn’t all bad – I went to our War Memorial garden, for instance, and found that beautiful and moving. But overall I found Dublin to have an air of sadness hanging over it. Hopefully it won’t last forever. I hope you’ll make it back to Ireland someday soon! Have a lovely day.

      Reply

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