Tue 16 Feb 2010
Emma, Sinead, me and Tracy, 1997
“Why Ireland?” It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot lately. As a freelance writer, I suppose I could work from just about anywhere, and with many countries offering artist/writer visas (though they are quite difficult to obtain), there are other options. So why did I pick the cold, rainy Emerald Isle?
Let’s flash back to 13 years ago.
It’s moving day for me in San Francisco, and my best friend Cat and I have pulled up to my new digs on 25th Avenue in the Richmond district. The week before, I had met with the leaseholder about a room for rent at the 5-bedroom flat, and was accepted on the spot. I knew there would be other new tenants moving in that day, but had no idea who they were. As we sat in Cat’s car in front of the flat, a ruddy-faced young man approached the driver’s side.
Trevor and Trevor in our 25th Ave house
“How’s it goin?” he said, with a thick accent. “I’m Towley.”
“Towley?” asked Cat. It was kind of an unusual name.
“No, Towley,” he said. Both Cat and I looked confused; that’s what we heard the first time.
“Uh, Tolley?” she asked again, somewhat apologetically.
“TOWLEY!” he said, a bit louder. This time we just both sat there, bewildered.
“Ah, Jaysus” he said, with a bit of a chuckle, before bounding up the stairs.
“Is it Towley or Jaysus?” Cat asked. I just shook my head in confusion.
Later I found out that the guy was named Terry, but with his heavy country-Irish accent, neither Cat nor I could decipher what he was saying. He was helping his friends move into the flat that day. His friends, Keith and Sinead – fresh from a small town just north of Dublin – were just two of about a dozen Irish that I would come to know during my two-year stint at the 25th Avenue house.
Me and Sinead in Ireland, 2009
They were all buddies, all from the same general area, and had moved to San Francisco to work and experience a new culture for a while. Probably due to our shared love of drinking (I was in college, after all) and our twisted senses of humor, we got along well and formed a quick bond. I learned many Irish slang words, like “craic” (a good time), “minger” (ugly person), “press” (cupboard), “scoops” (pints) and I introduced them to other foods besides meat and potatoes (yes, I’m “taking the piss” here a bit). We were poor, for the most part, but somehow scrounged up enough cash to live at the pub Friday through Sundays. Much of that period is fuzzy, to say the least, but I do know that I had the time of my life.
Trevor in Dublin, 2009
We only see each other every few years or so, but every time we meet it’s as if no time has passed. Our lives have progressed in different ways since then, but the bond has remained as strong as ever. When I visited last October, I had already been searching for somewhere new to live. After spending a week with my old friends in this new town, something just clicked.
Six months later, I’m closing up my life in Los Angeles and readying myself to move to their part of the world. It’s interesting to think about how, back then, I met my Irish friends as they were embarking on a new life in a foreign country; now, all these years later, I’ll be doing the same over there. Am I scared? A little. Nervous? Absolutely. But I know I’ll get by…with a little help from my friends.