So I took a break to have a sandwich and suddenly it’s two and a half years later...*ahem*...sorry folks. But in my defence, I have been busy. Ok, that’s a crap excuse. I’ll flog myself later but first let me catch y’all up (I’m in one of those moods where I speak only in my “southern belle” accent, I would therefore appreciate it if you could, in your head, read this entry as if you were born and bred slightly west of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Damn, I’m starting to sound Welsh again, this always happens eventually).
So, quick update on what I have been doing between 10 December 2015 and today.
1. I did make a lot of sandwiches, that was no word of a lie.
2. I bought a house. Irish people are very into home ownership. I think it may surpass both the weather, and sliced pan as far as national fixations go. I may have gotten married and had children (yes, I know the order is wrong) but home ownership is like hardcore adulting. I am definitely a grown-up now...maybe I have to stop wearing the green crocs first, but I am very close to full-scale maturity.
I should say that ‘we’ bought a house. I could never buy a house on my own. Firstly, I couldn’t afford to buy anything more than a well-appointed garden shed on my single salary. Secondly, and equally important, I needed Mr Oh to do the actual house buying which appeared to be inordinately complicated and time-consuming (and mostly dull). Mr Oh had a long list of criteria that he was looking for in a home so it seemed logical that he would take the lead. He wanted four bedrooms, a moderately proportioned garden, an easy commute to work, local amenities etc. I just wanted a roof, walls, enough garden space to grow a small fairy village, and to sleep no more than 300 paces from the sea.
The only problem we had with the house buying plan other than budget, Mr Oh’s unreasonable and lengthy list of criteria, and the severe lack of housing stock in Ireland is the small issue of the fact that we were not actually in Ireland. We were in China, where the internet has to creep through a gazillion firewalls to eventually flop lazily into your computer and then wants to take a nap before you try to do anything else with it. Thankfully, houses are not bought over the internet on the basis of fastest fingers. Mr Oh spent months scouring the property sites looking for suitable homes. There wasn’t much out there. Occasionally, we found something we liked - sent out some obliging parental scouts to assess the properties - and, once, we got caught up in a bidding war by email which was great fun. It mostly consisted of me sitting in my pyjamas in Shanghai drinking wine and shouting “ten more grand” at Mr Oh, who thankfully had more sense than to treat the bidding process like a souped up episode of The Antiques Roadshow. It was a relief when, after a protracted process of submitting increasingly unjustifiable offers on this particular house, we were finally outbid (I must have run out of wine and gone to bed). Sometimes we drive by the house that we lost and I am hit by a (small) wave of guilt that the current owners and winners of the bidding battle, paid a lot more for their house than they would have if we had just gone out for dumplings that night.
Eventually, and just when I was starting to think we would never find the right house - we did. It has four bedrooms and a moderately sized garden. It is accessible by public transport. There is a fairy garden. And it is no more than 300 paces from the sea.
Yesterday Snugglepunk, who is now almost four and really living up to the ‘punk’ part of his name, used the horn of his toy rhino to gouge out several pieces of plaster from the landing wall. Where once I would have been consumed by fear for ‘the deposit’ and the almost certain loss of the deposit that seems to follow when one has small, destructive, selectively deaf children...on this occasion, because it’s our own house, I just shrugged, smiled benignly and threw the rhino out the window.
3. We left Shanghai and moved back to Ireland. A lot of things went into boxes. They then went on a ship and about six months later they came out of boxes. Mr Oh still thinks I own too much stuff but I have whittled down my possessions to such an extent that the only two items of frivolity that I insist on hauling around the world with me are a pair of small clay elephants and a ceramic pot filled with tiny flag-shaped badges from different countries. He will someday admit that, while we do seem to have a lot of stuff, most of it, while not exactly his, is used to house, clothe and maintain humans that he created. Minimalism is for people who don’t have children.
4. I went back to work. After four years of not working outside the home (and not really working that much inside it either because the ayi did that), this was a bit daunting. On my return I discovered that, in my absence, the entire office had been updated to a new version of Windows so I spent most of the first month trying to figure out how to attach files to emails and wistfully wondering if my children were thinking of me as they toddled around their creche. They weren’t.
5. I made a new person. It would be pretty uncool if I just announced his arrival into the world with fewer characters than I dedicated to describing the attempted suicide of our pet goldfish so I will postpone his formal introduction until the next entry.
So, there you have it. House - country - job - human - sandwiches. That stuff takes 2.5 years.