|Dublin City on The Liffey - Simone Walsh|
I have never been a 'finisher', and an old business teacher of mine in school described me as a 'bit of a walter mitty' to my mother in a parent-teacher conference one particular year. I'd always leave stories half-written, and I'd draw pictures of people missing an arm or a leg. I was also always asking questions, and once I'd discovered the answer to one, I'd soon grow bored of my newly discovered tid-bit of information, and ask another. It would get to the point where I realized conversations with me were just turning into a string of questions on my part, and a very worn out mom answering to the best of her knowledge. 'What is the meaning of life?' was one I pondered often. Eventually I reached a conclusion that I proudly announced in the back seat of the car one day: 'maybe we are fast forwarding and rewinding at the same time' I declared. The car erupted in laughter, and the fact that I came up with a 'tape recorder' inspired conclusion to the 'meaning of life' made me swell with pride.
Somewhere deep in my core I just knew I was not cut out for a straight forward life, where everything turned out as planned. To say I had ADHD would be an overstatement, but to say my nerves and emotions were always stable would be an extreme overstatement. I was always itching to create, discover and explore. I suppose I was doing this in an effort to 'discover' myself. I was always on that journey most people had completed many years previous. So, now at 29 I am still trying to 'find' myself, and what better way to learn about how you fit into this world than to meet half the people who in habit it? The good, the bad, and the downright crazy.
And so, I began staying in tourist hostels in 2013, when my granddad first started losing his memory, and I was unable to live with him any longer. I stayed in all the tourist hostels around town, and upon arriving back after several weeks, I realized that it had had a profound effect on me. I met so many unusual characters I would have otherwise never known existed. One which stood out was a Venezuelan guy, who wore an enormous fuzzy coat every single day, and spoke to me for hours while we swung on hammocks in the 'hammock room'. He would re-iterate how 'dyoo are crazy' whenever I'd go on a mad tangent about my life. I then distinctly remember not seeing him for several days, and then having him suddenly appear at the reception again claiming he just arrived 'back from Norway' where it was 'fucking cold'. He went up there to have sex with a Norwegian girl he met in the hostel. So, when I arrived back home, I realized that life was boring, and I found I was turning to the murky world of online chat rooms to fill the void. Deep inside, there was a longing within me to go out into the world and find stimulus. I just wasn't expecting to find it as soon as I did. If you read my earlier blog posts, you will see why I got myself into the situation of homelessness, and I don't want to get into the details. However, needless to say, my emotional instability drove me to it. And this time, I didn't check into hostels since I was 'over' all that, and I associated it with the brand new mess I 'd created for myself.
So I started ringing the free phone and saving myself a few bob a week. I spent three months like that, ringing the free phone nightly, and sleeping in dorms full of people who'd spent every last scrap of their money on drugs. Little did I know, I'd spend four long years of my life within the system, dealing with addicts on a daily basis. Now, I've moved three times since I finally got a room of my own, and I'm back in tourist hostels again. In fact, I'm in the same tourist hostel now as the one I met the Venezuelan guy in, back in 2013. Very little has changed, apart from the fact that I'm a bit cooler, and I have aches and pains in places they weren't before, and there has been a complete over haul of people. I do not recognize one face; not even behind the reception desk. This was an unusual experience for me, and physically highlighted to the me the ebbs and flows of life. I also came to the conclusion that I was going to 'fall in love with and marry a Frenchman' after an extended gaze into the eyes of a random French man who was sleeping in the bunk bed bellow me about a week ago. After living in a shared apartment for a few months with two different sets of people, I realized after month number one, I'd start to feel the itch to be surrounded by interesting people again. Now there is one man in this tourist hostel who has 'met enough interesting people in his day' and makes a point of looking glum when greeted with a 'hello!', but even he, like it or not, is working his way into my list of interesting people, as I am into his. I'll admit, meeting every single person on earth does suck the mystery out of life to a point, but the fact will always remain thus: even if you spend the rest of your life shaking new people's hands (taking rest and sleep into consideration) it would take you roughly around 500 years to complete. Needless to say, we will never live that long so there is always an infinite amount of connections to make, especially in places like tourist hostels, where there is literally every type of demographic on earth.
To conclude this long and rambling blogpost, much as I complained and cursed my homelessness, in a way it has always been part and parcel of who I am. Once I got an itch for it in 2013, it didn't go away. Sure, I have an obsessive personality anyway, but my brain lacked stimulation at home, and I wanted to do as much exploring as I could without the money to finance it. Plus, Dublin is basically the biggest tourist hot-spot in Europe, so I'm bound to meet someone completely different to me. Moreover, it is the city of my birth and the single place on earth I am likely to have more in common with the locals than anywhere else in the universe. What better place to explore?