Brussels still has my heart – I’m in my 3rd apartment, with my 2nd flatmate, on my 4th job: each move has been one that solidifies my presence here, in my own head at least. Those in the know nod sagely when they hear of each new decision or commitment, and refer to the “quicksandedness” of Brussels. Those less in the know (mainly those at home) ask when I will be coming back to Ireland, not understanding that this is not and never has been an option (not because I’m on the run or anything – I just don’t have any interest in living there). Family
I used to think that the places that I have visited in the past would mean more to me if I had a close family member living nearby. I have revised that theory, because in spite of the mind-numbing cliche, absence does in fact make the heart grow fonder. My family understand and encourage my need to live abroad – if anything they are saved from my bossiness on a day-to-day basis, but can appreciate it for its comedic value during the holidays. My mother looks forward to the day when she can kidnap my future children from whatever country I end up in, and bring them home to Cork for the summer. GAA
One of the things that I never appreciated when I was in Ireland was a real sense of community. I think this may have all come down to me deciding at the age of 16 to give up playing with my local GAA club (for whatever reason). Even though I was still living in Glenville and going to university in Cork, and my entire extended family was intrinsically linked with the club, my tie with the main focal point of most Irish communities was broken. I don’t regret this at all, but it is a fact. I would see my brother going to college in Limerick, coming home once or twice during the week for training or a match, missing out on holidays and numerous concerts, all without batting a eyelid, and I would think that I was obviously lacking some Halbert/McCarthy gene. Living in Brussels, I can now see that you can either allow the GAA to tie you down, or you can take control of your involvement in it. When I arrived in Brussels in May 2008, I was hesitant about making too many commitments to the GAA club here. This year, I unconsciously rejected these reservations, and accepted it wholeheartedly.
And now I’m the one treking it across Brussels to train in Parc 50e, bearing the brunt of strangers pointing and staring at my hurley, or covered in mud because Willie devised an “interesting” new drill for football. And I’m the one spending hundreds of euro to travel all over Europe for tournament after tournament after tournament. And I’m the one whose friends are all in the same club as me and who share the same love for the GAA as me, even though we didn’t grow up together, some of us aren’t even from Ireland, and those of us who are, don’t even support the same county at home.I’m going to stop now, and fiddle about with my office website (in the hope that it doesn’t explode on me. Thank God for Ctrl+z). This is not all for 2009, I’ve just run out of creative steam for the day.