Packing Suitcases, Mojitos, Saying Goodbye, Permanent Stains and other Escapades

I just brewed my last cup of coffee.

Freshly brewed coffee

Unless I buy some more ground coffee beans I officially have no more coffee in the house. I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse. In just a few days I'll be leaving Ireland on a one way ticket to China and I'm in a weird daze. I can't bring myself to go and shop for a few days in a row, like I usually would because it's the most sensible thing to do. Somehow that feels like something too permanent. So instead I find myself running down to the supermarket every day to buy breakfast or lunch or dinner.

The only thing I'm fretting about is my luggage allowance, I'm hoping and praying that I can keep within the limits of my allowance, otherwise I'm screwed. I already shipped a suitcase over, my fish is minding it for me until I get there and I could kick myself for not stuffing more things into that suitcase. But what's done is done and I can't change the past. I'm re-evaluating all my stuff and I'm trying my best to be very strict and only take the things I really need. China is different but it's not the end of the world and I can buy stuff there. I'm hoping that a lot of sajiao-ing will make my fish relent and help me buy stuff on Taobao. I might have to resolve to bribery and promise him loads of things if I don't get anywhere with my sajiao-ing. Maybe I should take a crash course in pole-dancing?!

This looks neater than it actually is. Since this picture was taken, I've repacked and rearranged my stuff at least five times.

Other than that I'm mostly calm and composed. I'm looking forward to my new challenge but this whole moving and saying goodbye stuff really isn't my cup of tea. Everyone's been absolutely fabulous to me. My former colleagues willingly and enthusiastically (that or they're really good at pretending!) tried some Chinese treats and my boss gave me a lovely going away present. Everyone signed a card for me and I've been getting lovely cards from a few other friends as well. They all wrote lovely things but they're all saying goodbye and I hate saying goodbye.

Whenever I call my fish I give out to him when he says 'bye' at the end of our conversation. I give out until he says 再见 [zài jiàn] which literally translates into 'see you again'. I'm also never the first to hang up the phone or end a video call. I can't. I hate saying goodbye. Whenever I go back to Germany I refuse to say goodbye to my dad whenever he drops me off at the train station. We have a silly ritual. He always waits at the bottom of the escalators and I wait at the top, on the platform. When the train pulls into the station I give my dad one last wave, blow him a kiss and board the train. The moment I'm seated I will pull out my phone and call my dad and I will call him at least twice more before my plane takes off, flying me back to Ireland. Whenever we talk on the phone I always say 'bis morgen' which translates into 'see you tomorrow', even if I have no plans to call him the next day or know I will be too busy to sit down for a chat. I just hate saying goodbye. Twice before I got into trouble for refusing to attend a funeral. I will not say goodbye and that is that. I might have to be less drastic about my not saying goodbye rule but one after the other...

This will always be my favourite view. Just after the Luas pulls into its final stop at Stephen's Green, you clamber off, push through the crowds, cross the streets and there it is, the top of Grafton Street, full of noise, people, action, street performers, lush scents of fresh flowers, Butler's chocolate, the horses across the road in front of the park, and further down you have Bewley's café where the scent of freshly ground coffee beans wafts out of the open doors, stopping you in your tracks and abandoning all your plans you walk in, find a seat, order a coffee and forget about the world for a while.

The balcony in Bewley's café, my favourite window seat overlooking the hustle and bustle that is Grafton Street in a nutshell. I always thought I'd end up writing my first book there...

But I'm leaving Ireland in favour of starting a new life in China so I have no option, I actually have to say goodbye. I have to say goodbye to the people I've been working with, my friends, other old colleagues, all the familiar places, my favourite hideouts and coffee shops, my favourite beach, park, shop, restaurant... Just this morning I realised that in my eight years of living here in Ireland I didn't see as much of the country as I should have. I never bothered to kiss the Blarney Stone or cycle in Connemara and I never did follow through and plan that roadtrip down the coast in direction Cork, on to Kerry, Galway, Sligo and then up north and back down to Dublin. I didn't take many weekend trips to explore Ireland, I was always either too busy with work or preferred my regular hounds over trying something new so I just stuck with them. There were places I just had to go to, people to see, things to do.

In the days and weeks after quitting my Au Pair job I just had to have breakfast in Stephen's Green Park while looking for a job and a flat in Dublin. No matter the weather it was almost a daily ritual. We'd buy food and we'd go and sit in the park, hidden away from prying eyes. While I was living on Dublin's Northside I went to Malahide or Portmarknock Beach almost every day after work. The bus stopped practically right in front of my house so I just hopped on and off we went to enjoy the water, sand and the one or other golden sunset. When I relocated to the Southside Powerscourt Gardens became my favourite hound or a leisurely shopping trip to Dundrum Towncentre, followed by a coffee and/or a meal. While working in city centre I just had to go for a stroll in the Iveagh Gardens (and no I'm not telling you how to find them, they're hidden for a reason, you need to actually go hunting for the entrance gate before you can enjoy the beauty of the garden).

Mojitos are a must. I must find a place in Wuhan that has good Mojitos...or learn how to make them myself.

I've no regrets, they're a waste of time, but I think I'll have to come back one day. Not for work, just for fun. Next time I come back to Ireland I'm just coming back to play and have fun. I want to travel, see all the places I haven't seen and do all the things I've already done a million times. I want to laugh with my friends, sing and dance, go shopping, drink Guinness and have coffee in my favourite haunt. So if you could kindly work with the people behind the EuroMillions to ensure that my numbers are drawn, well I'd appreciate that.

Ireland has left an unmistakeable, permanent stain on my heart. There's no detergent that will ever get rid of it and no amount of blood transfusions will get rid of the Irish blood that's running through my veins, or so it feels like. Ireland has given me so much, it shaped and moulded me and helped me become the young woman I am today, the one that is sitting here in front of her laptop, typing away on her latest blog post while drinking coffee. If I had the chance to meet the 18-year-old, naive girl, who left Germany so many years ago to start a new life, well, I don't think I'd recognise her. I definitely made the right choice when I decided to leave. I was meant to come to Ireland, I'm convinced of that, weirdly enough. During the last eight years I've wanted to give it all up, throw everything away and pack up and leave but I never did. The time wasn't right. I've no idea if it is now but some chances must be grabbed by the ears when they arise. If you let them float by they might never some back. I'm ready to grab them, to be bolt and stand my ground. I'm ready to fly!

Today is Wednesday. Shockingly I only have two full days left in Dublin before my plane takes off on Saturday morning. The first time I landed at Dublin airport on a Ryanair flight that was parked miles and miles away from the terminal I felt like I'd come home when I stepped off the plane and walked down the steps, crossed the runaway and boarded the shuttle bus. It was late in the evening and I didn't see much of Dublin but I felt like I'd come home. For the purpose of making this sound like a fairytale we will forget all about me freaking out about my decision to move to Ireland by the time I'd reached the terminal.

In the process of writing this post, I have however come to the conclusion that I will not change and while I've been saying goodbye to my friends and allowing them to bid me farewell, I refuse to say goodbye to Ireland. This has been my home for the last eight years and one day I will be back to visit. There is therefore no point in saying goodbye only to say hello again when I do come back.

I'm looking forward to how I will feel when I step of the plane in Wuhan on Sunday. I suspect after 22 hours of travelling (if there are no delays in departure that is) and two flight transfers I will feel mostly exhausted but I'm looking forward what else my gut will tell me and I'll be sure to write about it.

On that note, I will leave you with a very important question to ponder over and yes I do expect an answer. While China is the land of the rising sun where people just love to eat rice, they do have a huge variety of noodles so this is a very important question I need answered.