written Monday night, 26 April 2010
I’ve been in Ireland exactly 2 weeks tonight. My time here has been incredibly full; it’s hard to believe that in such a relatively short time, I met such great people and made good friends who continue to stay in touch. Earlier today, I got 3 new roommates—women from Paris. They went sightseeing today and then leave tomorrow for other parts of Ireland. Our meeting was so brief I don’t even know their names.
Whining and Venting
So, I’m stressing about a place to live. That familiar feeling of anxiousness and frustration came calling earlier today… I want the process to be over already. The urge to settle down and have some sense of routine and familiarity is stronger than I thought. It’s a different world to have people come in and move through my life, continually saying hello and goodbye. It’s different to eat in public nearly all the time and, when I’m using wifi in the public areas, plan my trips to the restroom. I have to get someone to watch my stuff or pack it up and then come back and unpack. I don’t like staying in my room because I only have one shared (uncomfortable) chair to sit in or I have to lay my bunk, and I don’t have wifi access in my room. I’ve hit my head so many times on the metal edge of the upper bunk, I have a bruise on my temple. I know… wah, wah, wah.
My own space… I crave it. I long for one small slice of the world where I can be without interruption. I think this is important because I’m not a “tourist” really. I’m here to write and I need a place that I can go where I know people won’t burst into the room talking overly loud in a language I can’t understand, just at the moment when I’m in a good groove (not talking about my roommates but the public areas). At the same time, I’m cautious about the tendency I have to be on my own. I will have to be intentional to connect and create relationships and make friends. When I’m not living in a hostel, I’ll need to go out and meet people. Not easy for me.
The Push and Pull
The thing is that what I want… my own space… will likely increase my sense of loneliness. On the one hand, it’s in this elemental place of being with only myself and God that my writing often comes forth. It’s the place where I can see clearly that I am one alone, and yet that I am connected to everything and everyone. I feel both experiences are always present, and I miss both as if they’re gone… like I’m caught in between. And it’s in this in between where my soul’s voice is clearest and chooses to speak. I am here in that place now and I don’t like it, yet this is good for what is before me. So part of my work is to increase my ability to stay in this place for longer periods of time so that I can do what I feel called to do. I’ve about reached my limit today and think I’m going to need some chocolate and some social time soon. Damn it, it’s after 7 pm on a Monday and most of the shops are closed by now. Galway city centre shuts down by 7, even the grocery store. There’s always an Irish pub that I could go to but I’m not sure that this would be entirely helpful. I need to plan my angst better.
Don’t settle for the familiar
My apartment situation—over the past several days, I’ve made over 25 calls. Many were rented, some were unsuitable for me and others just didn’t call back. I chose the Salthill area of Galway because it was close to the Promenade and it’s where I’ve been walking every day. I can walk around there and not get lost. Downside: it’s windy out there and touristy. I checked out two gyms in Salthill—First gym: most expensive and all classes were extra. Second gym: less expensive and some classes were extra.
I looked at two apartments in the Salthill area last week and Sunday and one on the outside only, as well as one house. The house and one townhouse had too many other people sharing; I realized after looking that I really only wanted to share with one other person. One townhouse had only one other person but it was really too small and on a really noisy street. The apartment that I liked the best had one other person, but he smoked and the smell permeated the apartment. I thought I could live with it, and he was trying to quit and said he’d only smoke outside. I was getting discouraged that I could find a place and he was very nice. He would let me know tonight whether or not it would work for me to move in.
Today I decided to make some additional calls, not wait around for people to call me back and try to find what I really wanted. Since I had called nearly every ad in Salthill, I called a few ads in areas that I was unfamiliar with. One wasn’t willing to rent for 2 months, most didn’t answer. One person offered to show me his apartment Tuesday morning. I decided to go and see it. He said it would be great for a writer. He was Irish and I had a harder time understanding him than I did the French guy whose apartment I looked at last week. I had to have the Irish guy spell the name of the street for me.
I left the hostel around 7:45 tonight and just started walking, thinking I would find chocolate and people somewhere. I felt strongly drawn to walk in a direction I’d never walked before. I realized that for the last 4 days I always walked in the same general direction. That’s how I thought I knew where I wanted to live. I had decided that I would choose the apartment out in Salthill with the smoking partner, if he decided that I was the person he’d rent to. I felt like it wasn’t quite right for me, but I rationalized by telling myself that I couldn’t expect too much, and it was only for 2 months.
But as my feet kept walking only God knew where, I started to feel the freedom of knowing absolutely nothing about where I was going. I was just putting one foot in front of the other, and with each step I felt myself growing nearer to God. His warmth began to envelope me and each step became lighter and the shadows over my heart dissipated in the brightness that is the freedom of walking in faith. It just became suddenly clear that I was settling and that I was acting out of frustration, not faith. I determined that I would just stay in the hostel until the right place came along that nurtured me: mind, body and soul. With that decision, I began to reflect and talk with God and hear his words in my mind and heart, which is a pattern that I consistently experience, and I love it because it always gives me something important that helps guide me through the unknown.
As I walked, I was listening to my music and talking with God and realized that my natural pull toward the known is my version of being the frog that boils to death slowly. When I choose to keep going into what I know, I cease to live in faith and I cease to discover. I start to fit things into what I can see and understand, and I don’t live in the wonder and the mystery that is beyond my physical world. It’s how I’ve gotten in, and stayed in, situations I never should have been in at all. Living in the known, with what I can see or understand is incredibly stressful and is a joy killer.
I soon found that I was walking in the direction of the apartment that I was to see in the morning but I didn’t have my directions with me. I decided that it would be a good idea to see if I could find it and save myself from getting lost in the morning. I remembered he’d said it was near the G Hotel and that the fitness club was 3 minutes away. And I think he’d said the color of the apartment. I stopped in at the Huntsman Inn pub to ask where the fitness club was. I found it easily and the woman at reception was incredibly nice and toured me right away. They were running a special and the 2 months ended up being less expensive than the other 2 clubs I’d looked at, and this club included all classes in the membership fee… and they had more classes to choose from. Additionally, they had a second club across town that I could use too. I saw a notice for a community mini-marathon and a triathlon, both of which I’ve wanted to do but I don’t swim well at all so I’ve never tried. She said they were starting a new beginner’s swim class and that I could be well enough along to do the triathlon, which also happened to be coordinated by the club owner.
I walked back toward the apartments to see if this might be the right complex. I noticed that in this neighborhood there were a lot more people running and biking than I’d seen in Salthill. I felt more at home here. I felt light and unburdened, not because I thought this was it, but because I had discovered another layer of living in faith. I found this entirely new part of town that I liked a lot because I just start walking into the unknown. I had no intention of coming here… didn’t even know it was here. The thing that was clear to me was that I didn’t have to know anything… I just had to start walking forward with absolutely no clue where I was going. My life, my joy, my bliss is out beyond what I can see—it’s off the edge where only faith moves me and God’s quiet voice leads me. The truth that settled into me with beautiful clarity is that when the shadows fall on my heart, I need to get moving and walk further into the unknown… which brings me into the light. I used to walk further down the path of what I know, even if it wasn’t what I really longed for or needed. I can attest that this creates an f’d up life.
BTW, no chocolate, but I tried. I stopped at a lot of restaurants and read their posted menu and went in to inquire in a couple places, but nothing was what I wanted. I bought some more milk (someone drank mine at the hostel) to make hot chocolate, and as I was leaving I received a text—the guy who smoked let me know that his friend had decided to move in and he wished me luck. I was grateful that I got clear before I got that text; that’s a pattern that God has with me. He tends to reveal the outcome only after I come to a conscious decision from faith, and then he allows the door to shut gracefully.
I ended up having hot chocolate and an apple with peanut butter and decided I would go out for chocolate as a celebration after I found my new place. It’s after midnight now and I’m going to sleep with a grateful and peaceful heart. My French roommates are already asleep. I’ll go downstairs and post this in the morning.