My current status: emotional whirlwind. A week after the polls have closed, I almost still can’t quite believe that we won the referendum to repeal the 8th. A landslide no less. I think it’s going to take a while for that to sink in. There has been many media/internet opinions on how the campaign was won – many, sadly not emphasising the grassroots feminist aspect, and ignoring the importance of donuts, or correctly folding t-shirts. But today, I am not going to give you another hot-take – instead, in another attempt at using writing as personal therapy, I’m going to talk about genies, ants and growing up.
I am tired. I am very tired.
I’m tired because I don’t remember the last time I had an evening off or a good night’s sleep. I’m tired because I’m not eating properly, or exercising, or taking care of myself, and my body is feeling that. I’m tired because I work a physically and emotionally demanding job. But mostly, I’m tired of asking people to give women the right to make their own decisions. I’m tired of asking people to vote Yes on Friday.
But I’m still doing it. So, for one last time, please vote YES in the referendum this Friday.
In November 2016 while living in Seattle, I wrote a (very) short blog post asking people to vote, particularly for those who are disenfranchised but have to live with the consequences of that vote. Now, nearly 18 months later and back in Ireland, I find myself once again asking for people to make sure they’re registered in time to vote on an issue that massively affects me but that I have no control over.
I’m talking, of course, about the upcoming referendum on the 8th Amendment.
As any immigrant knows, there are a million little things that continue to be different from ‘home’, long after you’ve settled into the big differences. For me, mapping the seasons onto the calendar is one of them – in particular, answering the question of ‘is it spring yet?’
I had a whole post I was going to write when I got back from our trip to Seattle. It was going to be about emotional labour. About how society consistently undervalues the unpaid/low paid womyn’s work that keeps the wheel spinning. About how practising what you preach is tough, and will probably lead to you getting called out on your problematic shit. About learning from your mistakes, and owning them, and apologising like you mean it. About reflecting on yourself and growing and changing what sucks. About how that’s hard work. It was going to be interesting, and I was going to try really hard not to talk about how great I am.
But on Monday, after a great trip to Seattle and a wedding in London, I was out of energy. Jet lag, I figured. Still, I felt kinda low. Didn’t want to do anything much. Decided to play some video games. I started up an indie game from Zoe Quinn. And I can’t stop myself from crying as I realise what that painfully familiar feeling creeping over me is. I tried to ignore it. I went out to a campaign meeting, hoping that jet-lag would be enough of an excuse for my weird spacey disconnectedness. I went home with my partner, watched Game of Thrones, hoped it would be a one-off ‘bad brain day’.
As a non-resident immigrant living in the US, we had limited political agency (I retained overseas voting rights for the UK, my husband was wholly politically disenfranchised) – and we were specifically warned about getting “too involved” in anything political by our relocation team. At times, as you may imagine, this was incredibly frustrating – especially during the global clusterfuck that was 2016. So one of the things I promised myself when I moved back to Ireland was that I would get involved in the causes that matter to me. One of those things – and the one I mostly yell about on the internet – is abortion rights.
I’ve had a busy few weeks. Last weekend, we had a friend from Seattle visiting at the end of a big Europe trip, as well as an old university friend of mine from London. The weekend before that we were in Naples, visiting another Seattle friend on a Europe trip. And the weekend before THAT my mum was over and I graduated. So we’ve now got three weeks of laundry, no groceries, and – perhaps inevitably – I am going to offload my thoughts onto the internet.
On Friday, I attended the graduation ceremony for my Bsc in Psychology with the Open University. It was emotional and gratifying, finally getting some fancy robes and a glass of bubbles after years of work. Studying while working full time and still trying to be a human being is hard, but it was worth it. I can’t escape a certain sadness though. And it’s not just because the journey’s over.
A friend asked me the other day if I was settled back into Ireland. The question threw me and left me distinctly unsettled – and it took me a while to realise why. I’ve been back in Dublin since December – and I’m pretty settled. I’ve caught up with old friends, got a job, an apartment, updated my Netflix account. The usual.
I have settled back into Dublin, and it has been comfortable and easy, for the most part – like wrapping myself in warm blankets that smell like home. Because Dublin has been my home, more or less, since I was 18. I spent a year in Britain, and nearly 3 in America – so this is actually the third time I’ve moved to Dublin – once in my teens, once in my twenties and now in my thirties, and this is the time I’m probably aware of what I’m getting into. (Someday, I’ll write about the ignorant, arrogant teenager who moved here at 18. Not today though).