It has to be just about the worst feeling possible, the one where you feel the rug has been pulled out from under you and that’s exactly what happened while I enjoyed a natter with my good friend from Bishopstown. Our weekly chat has formed an integral part of my life as a expat, enjoying the familiar ear when spouting off about life in Doha while being able to tap into home and keep up with the local goings on, having ones bread and eating it, I think it’s called.
The phonecall started in the usual manner, hello’s, pleasantries, day to day chit chat and then without a single thought for my feelings, she dropped the bombshell, she was thinking of emigrating to Canada. Well, you can imagine the drop that I got, stunned and rooted to the spot, I responded in a high pitched voice, “Fantastic, what a great plan!”. I was shocked, number one, at the flippancy by which the news was delivered and two, the cheek of her to leave. I mean the whole basis of me being able to leave Ireland and my friends was on the unspoken basis that all at home stayed the same. My friend has always looked at the bigger picture, something I admired greatly and before I had time to think the words were out of my mouth, and I asked straight out, why were they thinking about leaving Ireland, could they not make a go of it, the recession would be over in another 5 or 6 years, just a matter of tightening the belts till then. She began to inform me that it wasn’t solely for economic reasons that they planned to leave, mildly miffed when I heard this, I thought, even in emigration she is setting her sights on the long term picture, whereas I reactively departed for short term economic benefit, she continued, that frankly they were sick and tired of listening to the moaning and groaning, not from me, but from the media in Ireland and the public in general. So not only are people being driven out for economic reasons, they are also fleeing because they are basically sick listening to the doom and gloom. She said every day the news was getting worse and that in order to live her life to the fullest potential, she felt that emigration was her only option. While she wasn’t in dire need of financial improvement, she couldn’t, at least for the foreseeable future, ignore the shroud of economic depression currently draping the country.
It was then that I began to understand the power of one’s environment on one’s overall feeling of well-being and that in an economic climate like Ireland’s at the moment, it is almost physically impossible to remain upbeat. Although, I tune in regularly to 2FM in the mornings from Doha to listen to Ray D’arcy and while he does touch on the hardcore political and economic issues that are bringing Ireland to its knees, he does pepper the program with a good measure of frivolity and trivia, I am not exposed to the 6 o’clock news or local radio stations broadcasting news on local job losses and business closures. I also save myself the anguish of regularly logging on to ww.aib.ie and only do so when absolutely necessary. Even during my final weeks in Ireland before emigrating, I chose to listen to Paulo Nutini rather than the local news, much preferring to hear how his father got up each day at five to start the car and take a drive, put the shutters up turn on the fryer and served the food to all the buyers, as opposed to, 90 people were told today that their jobs were on the line in Little Island ……
Understanding as I am, I am still very put out at her possible departure, I still can’t help feeling hard done by, my emigrating is fine, and made palatable by knowing that all my family and friends are willing to stick it out until the recession ends and I come home, if they are unable to stick their heads in the sand for a few years and insist on making lives for themselves elsewhere, what will be there for me to come home to!