Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The move

There was no dramatic moment involved when it was decided I would stay in Dublin as my parents moved to Limerick. No cliffhanger, no great sit-down, nor an announcement made at some family meeting. We never had family meetings.

One day I was moving with them, I was to attend a new school and make new friends and have my own room and get to know a new area, and then something shifted in the air and I was to move next door with my grandparents in Glasnevin instead.

I like to think that the final decision was made by my folks quietly, decisively from the flick of a kettle switch to its boiling point.

When they told me I was going to live with my granny and Finghín, all I could wonder was how quickly I could get on the phone to tell my schoolfriends that I'd be seeing the Leaving Cert through with them after all, while my folks made plans for my absence. Not only that, but the absence of my older sister who was about to start college, and how to separate us from my younger sister, twelve and starting secondary.

It's funny how a teenager thinks.

"Will there be girls at my new school?" became "I want the big room next door." "Will they have uniforms?" became "I can go drinking up the back lane and I won't get caught." (Their hearts breaking.) "I'm going to pull sickie after sickie and they won't have a clue." (Their hearts breaking.) "I'll drink anything for a bet. Let's watch The Word." "Why can't Kev come to the pub? I got him that fake ID from that fella in school. Kev's gay." Their hearts breaking.

It turned out to be all and none of the above. I rebelled in the safest way possible. I never stayed out late, never drank more than four cans. I missed the odd Latin test, I was made to re-sit them. I ate lots of stew, I cried on the phone. I took the train down, I took the train back. Every weekend, regular as Glenroe.

Before my parents left, I could never talk to girls. After my parents moved, I could never talk to girls. Fifteen years on...

This all came to me this evening on my way home from town. I passed a girl on the street and I remembered her from that time. March 1995, a couple of months before the move, and I was doing my transition year work experience over in RTE, sorting through letters for Gay Byrne to read out on air.

There were two girls from Mount Merrion on the same detail, and I remember sitting down with the red haired version one day in the canteen. I recall telling her that my folks were about to move down to Limerick. I was to stay up here because I was settled in school, in life, with my friends and they, my mam and dad, trusted me.

"That's so cool, like," I imagine her words. "You're going to get to have like deadly parties and stuff."

"Yeah, I can't wait, no stupid parents to tell me what to do. Going to be class. You should come to my parties. Make sure you give me your number."

"Oh I definitely will."

As she left, all smiles and Dublin 4 nonchalance, I was left there to sit, stare out the window, finish off my 7-Up and be the most afraid I've ever felt in my life. One small moment I'll never forget.

10 comments:

Tuesday Kid said...

I always thought living on my own I'd have cool party after cool party, problem is I can't clean my house enough to invite anyone and I don't know enough people to make "friends round for a piss up" into a party.

Kath Lockett said...

Oh you poor, sweet young thing. You were just living the reality instead of the dream. I've been quite amazed at what old school friends and Uni buddies confess to - and it's usually way tamer than what I thought they were *actually* up to at the time.

Radge said...

Tuesday Kid - I'm there as long as you promise smoked salmon canapés and some pink Moet.

Kath - I'm leaving tales of smack addiction and Page Three model husbandry until the autobiography. Fucked if I'm going to disclose the good stuff here.

mapstew said...

And to think ya could have been my neighbour! (I don't know who the lucky one is!) :¬)

Kitty Cat said...

Oh man, I don't know how you managed that at that age, I was in bits when I spent my first night in college accommodation. Cried in my room for the evening and was too scared to go out and talk to my new housemate strangers.

Still though, all character building stuff in the end eh.

Radge said...

Yes, eh, ehm, look at me now!

Holemaster said...

My first real moment being on my own was going away to college age 17 and getting off the bus outside a roadside bar where I was to meet my digs couple.

As I entered the main bar, there were wild west style swinging doors. I swung them open and everyone turned to look at me.

I was a man.

Radge said...

I like it. I should've been concise like that. Oh well.

Conan Drumm said...

Every now and then you shoulder open the door another crack.

How do you get on with junior sister now?

Radge said...

Tremendously, but you wouldn't like her when she's angry.

(Sorry Elmo.)