I’m at a bit of a loose end today. One of my oldest & best friends followed me to Ireland a year after I moved here back in 1995. He and his girlfriend came over for my wedding to Mrs. Bopp and they liked Ireland so much that they moved over permanently shortly afterwards. In the 14-odd years since they have bought a house in the country, and extended their family with two wonderful children.
Some weeks ago they told us that they had decided to leave Ireland. There were a lot of reasons such as wanting to be closer to their parents now that they had children but the overall feeling was one of disillusionment with Ireland. Lack of social cohesion, the ongoing recession etc. seemed to have made them feel like a square peg in a round hole. I was taken aback by their announcement but not really surprised as I have experienced similar feeling lately. For the last month or so they’ve been looking at jobs in the Netherlands, houses, planning the move etc but I was stunned to hear yesterday that one of them is already leaving Ireland tomorrow and the other will follow in two weeks. It feels like the end of an era to me. I will of course still have regular contact with them and they’re not exactly moving to the other end of the world but still they’re going. No jobs abroad yet but I get the distinct impression that they are so fed up with the situation here that they just had to leave.
I am surprised to say that I am taking this harder than I had expected. It might have to do with the fact that their feelings reflect mine very much. The last year has been one of the toughest so far on me and my family. Earlier last year we went to a very unpleasant period where we found out the hard way that not everybody who pretends to be so is actually your friend and that some people have no morals whatsoever. On top of that my wife was in the final year of her law degree with all the relevant pressures and lastly we have recently been hit (as most of us) by the economic downturn and things are financially tough at the moment. But worse of all I have become disillusioned with the country I live in. Having been quite involved in the political process (I managed my wife’s campaign in the recent general elections) I have learned not to have high hopes for change. But I have most of all lost faith in the will of the majority to improve their own lot. Ireland seems to be not only financially on the verge of bankruptcy but also morally. Everyone complains but nobody wants to take any real steps to improve the situation. And those who do stand up are beaten down by scorn.
So not surprisingly I have been looking at distant shores. But were. A recent trip back to the Netherlands taught me that while it had the comfort of familiarity it didn’t feel like home either. Things there have changed a lot and moreover I have changed a lot. So where to then? The answer to this question still eludes me, I think “home” to me is not so much a geographical concept but rather a concept of somewhere that I can find myself surrounded by like-minded people. I have an inkling where this might be but a hard fast answers eludes me still…