Feeling “at home”

I live in North Cork.

For anyone familiar with Cork City, saying that you reside in the “north side” comes with an air of privilege and prestige. Not because it’s a posh area, rather, the working-class neighborhoods on the north side are known to be gritty and rough. 1960’s era row homes dot the hilly landscape. Tough guys in matching tracksuits march by with leashed Jack Russells in one hand and intimidating hurling sticks in the other. The association with the north side is that you are tenacious and resilient. My neighbors walk along the gritty sidewalks with pride and confidence. Despite economic hardships and lack of infrastructural development, I never shy away from telling others about my residence when I get the FAQ, “whereabouts do ya live?”

The house in which my boyfriend and I currently reside is a palace by Irish living standards. Our two bedroom home, complete with a charming gas fireplace and spacious back garden, sits atop a steep hill. Though scaling this hill can be a bit physically challenging, the views into the city center are unparalleled. Sometimes, I admire the view from our bedroom window and imagine myself to be the “Princess of the North Side.” All I need is a bedazzled tiara to accompany a matching Adidas tracksuit.

I have officially lived in Ireland for one year now. I have just recently begun to reflect on all that has transpired over the course of this year. I completed a 20,000 word Masters thesis, joined a volleyball team, developed a loving relationship with a German man (whom I met my second week in the country), and moved into a beautiful home.

Home. This concept has jumped around in my mind every since I moved away from Texas. I had lived in the Houston-area for the majority of my life. Although I had been fortunate enough to travel to many places in the world, I had never allowed myself to commit to moving abroad. When I arrived in Ireland on September 1, 2016, I was determined to make this new country my home. Discovering the lovely rental house on the north side hilltop, was an opportunity my boyfriend and I could not pass up, especially considering the housing shortage impacting most Irish cities.

My boyfriend and I are not native to Ireland. He is from Bavaria, and I’m from the States. Understandably, sometimes we both experience sadness and homesickness. With our house, however, we are determined to create and sustain a sense of belonging and contentment. Home is not about perfection. Placing unfair expectations into what makes you feel “at home” will only perpetuate feelings of unease and discomfort.

We spend a lot of time in our home. We cook dinners together every night. We hang our laundry out to dry on the line in the back garden. We planted flowers in decorative flower pots. We enjoy cool evenings on our patio, listening to the birds around us, watching the sky’s hues shift, blend, and transition as the sun sets. When it’s raining (which happens quite often), we snuggle up in our cozy den. A home is about the moments you enjoy.

How do you feel about your home? What do you do to make the most out of your living situation?