One of the small benefits of the last 18 months is that a lack of things to do and places to go has meant it’s been a good opportunity to save money. Steve and I have been busily building up our savings for our wedding next year and for a deposit on a house, so we’ve been doing what we can to avoid unnecessary expenses. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to live with his parents since moving back to Ireland, so that’s also helped a lot, but in the day-to-day the lockdown has definitely made a difference in not spending money on travel and bars.
Still, even when saving as much as possible for important things, it’s good not to deprive yourself entirely of little luxuries, if you can swing it. And there are a couple of things I’ve bought in recent weeks that are well worth the money.
One year ago this week, I arrived in Ireland, landing at Dublin airport at 4.15am and blearily informing the immigration officer that I was intending to stay. Steve collected me from the airport and then it was across the country to Kerry. Two weeks later, out of self-quarantine and spouse visa in hand, I started applying for jobs and exploring my new home.
A year and several lockdowns later, this is the longest I’ve lived anywhere since the last time I lived in Ireland 6+ years ago. East coast US, west coast US, Canada, across the States in a van, east coast US again, New Zealand, Australia, travelling around Southeast Asia, east coast US once more… and then finally over here. It’s still too early to say “for good,” but I was approved for a three-year residency card renewal the other day, so, we’ll see.
The past year has obviously been weird, but despite the stress of a global pandemic, moving internationally again, looking for work in a small town that mostly runs on tourism, and so on, it’s been mostly good. I’ve gone for a lot of hikes, read a lot of books, written less than I would’ve liked but still a good bit, and even managed a few adventures when lockdown rules allowed.
On the horizon? A vaccine (finally—by the end of this month, if not sooner), a trip home to the States for a month in August/September, and hopefully things going back to normal in the not-so-distance future. Looking forward to see what the years to come will bring.
I think we’ve all hit it in the last few weeks. The reason is obvious, and so is the timing. We’re coming up on a year of Covid and lockdown, we’re facing some of the worst weather that keeps us even from our fresh air and vitamin D, and we’re reaching the realisation that even this summer might not be enough time to give us the fragments of normalcy we hope to grasp for.
And yet it still feels like there’s more to it. I’ve heard it from so many people, friends in all countries, all situations. Those who have lost their jobs and those who are working away from home. Those who have already received their vaccines (jealous!) and those who have no idea if they’ll even be on the list this year (hello). Even friends in New Zealand, where post-Covid life looks almost the same as pre-Covid life with a few more QR code check-ins, have noticed it.
Some people have hit the wall sooner than others. Some are doing what they can to stave it off—I sleep well, drink lots of water, walk almost every day, and yet the wall is still in front of me, my toes still bashing against it when I move to take a step.
This piece by poet Donna Ashworth really resonated with me the other day:
I’ve been having trouble sending or responding to messages, whether in direct conversation or through releasing them into the world via this blog. My anxiety tells me people won’t understand, but I know we’re all in the same boat. And when the flood of words comes, we’ll accept them with open arms.
We must remember that we are not alone. Although of course I don’t want any friends or strangers to find themselves up against the same wall as me, it helps to know that it isn’t a personal wall; it’s not a barricade just wide enough to keep only me from moving ahead. A wall that is wide enough to hold us all back is a wall that has plenty of space for cracks and fissures if we know were to look for them. It helps to know that we can still knock it down together.
I started this blog in 2012, just before another milestone birthday (my 21st). I’d shadowed an Ithaca College and Park Scholar alum at work on a trip to New York City and one of his colleagues had recommended I start a blog as a good source of writing samples to show potential journalism employers. I immediately jumped at the idea.
I’d already had years of blogging experience on various platforms (xanga, blogspot, livejournal, and tumblr) by that point, but I wanted to have a little spot on the internet to call my own. This was back when a lucky few were able to turn blogging into a full-time living before it all moved to Instagram (I’m not knocking influencers; I just don’t have the fashion sense or budget), but I was never interested in that.
I just wanted a place to write without the constraints of an academic essay or the AP Stylebook (as much as I dearly love both). I had lofty goals: at least one blog post a week (something I still have yet to achieve in any year so far; perhaps 2021 will finally be the year). The journalism didn’t stick, but the blog did.
2020 has been, I don’t need to tell anyone, a weird year. There have been days when moving from the bed to the couch has seemed a herculean feat, days when the effort of pouring a bowl of soup from a can has been similar to the work put in to make a five-course gourmet meal. There have also been days when things have gone swimmingly—exercise, cleaning, work, play, all sorts of productivity in a single 24-hour period, with minimal doomscrolling in between. It was in anticipatory hope of a strong of days like that which made me decide to sign up for NaNoWriMo once more.
I’ve got this great app called Countdown Star on my phone that I love. You input an event and it how many days there are until the date (or from the date, if you’re counting up from the day of your birth or whatever past occasion you want to celebrate or remember). 19 days until Steve and I go to Japan. 59 until we go to Tasmania to hike the Overland Track, 11 days since we got engaged (oh yes, did I not mention? …more on that next week), 10,457 days since I was born, and so on. And today it is exactly 500 days until I turn 30. Because I’m me and I love a good list, of course that called for one. A short-term bucket list of sorts, 30 things I want to do between now and 500 days from now, when I leave my twenties and join the world of thirty, flirty, and thriving.
I won’t share the whole list as some things are quite personal, but here are some of the items I plan to check off: