So that’s it. We are leaving Dublin behind and moving to the country

The future we had envisioned for our children no longer exists. That scares us

Darragh Geraghty with his son

Darragh Geraghty with his son

 

How does that old phrase go again?

What’s one more Covid article, said the wren pissing into the sea.

Yeah, pretty sure that’s it.

But this isn’t any old Covid article. I’m not going to bemoan anyone’s response to the crisis. I’m not going to draw battle lines between young and old, or between mask-wearers and selfish cretins. I’m not going to pine for the days when letting your hair down in a pub just led to a shame-soaked hangover, not the death of your elderly neighbour.

In fact, this is barely about Covid-19 at all. It is more akin to the ravings of a particularly zealous and manic televangelist about how the lockdown changed his life. Before I was blind; now I can see. I can see the light; the truth that remained hidden from me for so long.

Things I thought were important now feel irrelevant.

Uncomplicated joys

Take football, for example. One of the great, uncomplicated joys of my life before lockdown was spending a Sunday in the kitchen, slowly cooking, drinking a few beers and listening to live football on the radio. That’s all I needed for true happiness and inner-peace. The holy trinity: cooking food, drinking beer, and listening to a decent match. Since having kids this sacred custom has become a whole lot more chaotic, but no less enjoyable.

One of the first surprises of lockdown was how little I missed football, and sport in general. What the hell was I going to listen to while cooking? The delicate balance of the perfect Sunday is all out of whack without that sweet background noise of heartbreak and jubilation. I really thought I’d miss it, and I didn’t. At all. I watched Bayern Munich’s beautiful and ruthless castration of Barcelona a while ago with little more than mild interest. I don’t yet fully understand why. My brain has been rewired.

I thought I’d miss the Olympics. I really thought I’d miss Wimbledon. There is an alternate universe where I watched, with tears in my eyes, Roger Federer lift that glorious and gleaming golden cup for a ninth time. That potential reality has been denied to us all, and I thought I’d be sadder about it. At least we got to see the first eight.

This rewiring of my brain doesn’t just relate to sport; it relates to everything. I see the world differently now, as I’m sure most people do.

I thought I’d miss going to cafes, restaurants, pubs, the cinema. And I suppose I do . . . a little. Nowhere near as much as I thought I would. I didn’t even miss seeing other people all that much, truth be told. Maybe it’s a consequence of growing older, or being busy with a young family. Maybe by being so connected online, the need for face-to-face interaction is somehow lessened. Maybe it’s none of those things. Maybe it’s Maybelline.

Profound impact

The upshot of all this is a reappraisal of the things we really need. It has led our little family to make a truly momentous decision; one that will have a profound impact on all of our lives.

We need more space. We need a house to call our own; a house we can afford. We need to feel a reconnection with nature. We need to not smell our neighbour’s cigarette smoke when we’re playing with our kids in our tiny back garden. We need to not hear the earth-shattering construction of a hotel behind our house. We need to hear birdsong again.

So that’s it. We are leaving Dublin behind and moving to the country. We are terrified and excited in equal measure. We are changing the course of our children’s lives. The future we had envisioned for them no longer exists. That is what scares us the most; there is no going back.

In many ways this feels like a bigger decision than actually having children in the first place. It feels like a bigger decision than moving in together or getting married. They all felt like very natural things to do. This feels distinctly unnatural to us. Our hand is, to a certain degree, being forced by circumstance.

To be not so plagued by doubt would be a fine thing. A fine thing indeed.

And yet. The waves of uncertainty are followed surely and swiftly by waves of excitement. The potential of starting anew is limitless. We have no idea where we’ll end up, but we’ll be together and we’ll have a home to call our own.

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