Live Where You Live

I live in my home town. The town I was raised in. I haven't lived here always, but I have lived here mostly.
In my very early years it was all I knew. There was the sea to one side and mountains that curved all around the rest. There was the main street and the school bus that took me from one end of it to the other and back again, everyday. There were the houses of my relations and my school friends. There were Summers on stony beaches because there was no money for foreign holidays and Saturday mornings at drama classes, in a function room above a pub that stunk of spilled beer and cigarettes.
When I was 12, I started secondary school in another town. I slowly edged my way into a wider space by spending time with friends from other villages and towns up and down the train line. I went all the way into the city centre now for Saturday morning drama lessons. (Alone!) The room stuffy with the odour of pubescent bodies. And probably still cigarettes, because people could smoke wherever they pleased back then.
But, at age 12 I was commuting over 12 hours a week. So, exhausted by age 14, I decided to cut it down (barely) by joining a local youth theatre. Now my Saturday mornings were spent a few minutes walk from my home, in a musty, black box that held the hordes of teenagers it welcomed in some sort of magical trance. Saturday afternoons were spent in a cafe near the beach. Six of us sitting over three cups of 'lemon zinger' tea for hours. Summer evenings were spent outside the amusement arcades. There was no money to actually play anything at the arcades but there were boys to look at and teenage dramas to both witness and be a part of.
I knew my town well then. I knew which houses along the endless streets, that ran parallel with the strand, I would buy when I was older. I knew the secret gates that lead up the side of the mountain from the Newcourt Road. I knew the best place along the Dargle to catch minnows. I knew that there were strange treasures to be found on the back-strand as the sea eroded the ancient dump beneath the golf course. I knew not to talk to the men that played 'pitch and toss' under a wide oak tree in the park. 

I knew that it was a seven minute walk from my house to my bus stop for school. I knew that it took more than five minutes to get from the beach to the top of the Putland Hill - so I'd usually have to run to get to my aunt's house for the curfew that was a half hour later than my mother's curfew. I knew the rough feel of the granite platform under the statue of the Wyvern outside the townhall. I knew all the different shades of brown the river could be and that sometimes, when it got high, my father would go out in the middle of the night to measure the depth with a long stick, in case it flooded again.

I could write forever about the things I knew then. About the cold parlour in the piano teacher's house. The bright jewellery in Bannon's window. The sharp crust of the 'french stick' we'd get in Superquinn. The smell of Henry and Rose's chipper... 
...but then came the time when I felt I barely knew this place at all.

I went off to college first. And, although I still lived at home, I was rarely there. Next came work and again, although I still, with the exception of a couple of years, lived in my home town, I barely spent any time in it. I left early in the morning and came home late in the evening. I worked in the city, socialised in the city, should probably have been living in the city...

It felt for a long, long time that I never really lived where I lived. I wouldn't see the main street for months on end. I didn't know which cafés and restaurants were half-decent or what the inside of the Mermaid Theatre looked like or that Kilruddery even existed. I didn't feel like it was really my town anymore, despite being a native. 'Blow-ins' would tip me off about new places opening and old places closing down and I would feel a bit displaced. Out of the loop. A bit of a fraud. Did I really live in a place I knew nothing about? Even having children changed little. I was still working in the city and in the evening, the four walls of my house were mostly all I saw. 
It was only when I was made redundant two years ago and decided to take some time out of the workforce that I really re-connected with the town I love so well. Now I spend spend a lot of my time in and around my town and I can tell you that, on a clear day, you can see the faraway Poolbeg chimneys from the top of the Vevay Hill. I can tell you where to go for a meal that will make you feel like you're suddenly on holidays in Tuscany. I can tell you about all the cafés that have free Wifi and all the ones that don't. I know what the inside of the Mermaid theatre looks like and we go to Kilruddery at least once a week. I know that the latest Burrito place only lasted a week before it shut  - but that it's probably for the best because they had things like chorizo and feta in their burritos... I have become good friends with people who live two doors down from me but that I'd never seen before even though they'd lived there for years. I know the library opening hours and that it's quicker to walk the school run than to drive it on wet mornings. I know that the place to catch minnows is inaccessible now because of the flood prevention works but I watch my girls monitor the colour change in the river as we cross it everyday.

I live here now.

And there is a comfort in knowing a place so intimately.

In recognising each crack in the pavement as if it was a line on your own hand.

In living where you live.

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A few people have contacted me to say that this post had inspired them to write about their own love for where they live. I've decided, therefore, to make this a linky and I'm excited to collect all of these stories here. I can't wait to discover how you live where you live. Click the little icon below to join in.


And enjoy this lovely latecomer from Bumbles of Rice: A Love Letter to Gorey

35 comments

  1. Beautiful! And I'm living a similar situation right now :)

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    1. Thanks Emily. I hope you're settling in beautifully xx

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  2. Really beautiful post! I know some of these places. The names send me right back to childhood, familiar place names that rolled off the adults' tongues, although now I cannot remember where those places are, but there is a lovely comfort in hearing them again.

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    1. Thanks so much Naomi. I'll give you the grand-tour next time you're in town :)

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  3. Sadhbh that was the most beautiful piece iv read in a long time. Evokes all sorts of emotions and memories and I still live here too. Super Well done.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment xxx

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  4. I love this post. We're often too busy to notice all the beauty in the ordinary places that we live.

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  5. Love this Sadhbh! It stirs up all sorts of memories of my time in Bray too not least the smell from Henry & Rose, especially if you're on the footbridge across the DART line! It also nails it about living where you live. I have a grass is greener things sometimes about my hometown and I live far from there now, but I have embraced where I live and I live there. :D

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    1. Thanks Laura! Yes! Coming home from work on a Friday evening and the smell from Henry & Rose teasing you from the bridge - hard to resist! And I think you're right. I lived in Cavan for a couple of years but never settled there and definitely didn't embrace it - although I believed I would - but I think that's the most important thing. If you can accept and embrace where you live you'll probably find a lot to love about it.

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  6. Makes me want to write an ode to my own home town. Wonderful.

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  7. This is such a stunning post!

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  8. I get this. I moved away from my hometown at a later age of 24. Delighted to see the back of it. I found myself during that time. I moved back about 15 years later with a gaggle of kids and now my hometown is THEIR hometown. Sometimes I like circles.

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    1. Yes! I've got the same circle going on and it's lovely to see my town again through their eyes. Thanks G xx

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  9. This is just beautiful, Sadhbh. Gorgeously written.

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  10. I love this Sadhbh, so beautifully written, your heart is firmly planted in your home :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Nicola. It must be alright! I tend not to notice most days but sometimes something small can inspire a whole host of memories and make me write things like this!

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  11. Such a lovely read Sadhbh, it's lovely to hear that you find comfort in knowing your home town so intimately. I linked up an old post I wrote about mine, hope that's okay.

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    1. Thanks so much Fi! And thanks for linking up xx

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  12. Awww i love this post and you have inspired me to create my own post and link up too! :)

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  13. Gorgeous read, it's a like a memoir in a blog post, perfect. It reminded me of so much about the town that I grew up in, my other home town, so I've written about that, and mixed it up with a bit about Brexit too...

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    1. Thanks so much. Loved your piece. I love the sound of where you come from!

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  14. It's so beautifully written - I could feel every part of it. It got me thinking too, that I have lots of places but no one place like you do. My childhood in Cork was so long ago and I haven't been back in a while (though, oh, the nostalgia now that I think about it!) and during my teens in Blackrock, it was all about hanging around in Stillorgan and trying to get into the Bull and Bear - I didn't discover Dun Laoghaire Pier or Killiney Hill until I was a grownup. Wow, you really got me thinking. Gorgeous post.

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    1. Thanks so much! I had my fair share of hanging around in Blackrock and Stillorgan myself as a teen as I went to school in Stillorgan. Milkshakes in Eddie Rockets and trying to coax older sisters into buying us alcohol in the off licence in Blackrock shopping centre on a Friday afternoon, featured prominently! Glad to inspire some nostalgia in you. I'd love to read your words about all those places. x

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  15. Love this. I must write my own post.

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    1. Thanks so much and please do! I can extend the date of the linky if needs be. :)

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  16. I was sure I had commented on this weeks ago but I see now that I didn't. It really is a lovely post, so sincere and intimate.

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