Tesoro Irlandese: Day -2 (September 29, 2021)
So, there is less than 72 hours remaining before I am walking off a plane into the beautiful Roman sunshine.
This image of me, sitting on the balcony in my apartment, sipping orange juice and watching the sun arcing through the blue sky has propelled me through the entire hellscape years that were the Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns. However, I am starting to feel a little bit homesick before I’ve even left my home!
(I feel that, years from now, there will be a diagnosis of Stockholm Syndrome-esque behaviour for people who have become unhealthily attached to their home-spaces due to COVID-19 lockdowns. But, I digress…)
Ridiculous, I know. But I’m a serious home-bird. I can’t stand my family half the time but I can’t stand to be without them either. I’ve discussed in previous posts how to prepare yourself financially for a big move and how to plan where you’re going to live, but I haven’t really discussed how to prepare yourself mentally. So in this post, I talk about how to prepare yourself to spread your wings and fly from the nest.
Create a Home from Home
Now, this can come in many forms. For some people, having a cuddly teddy from their childhood is enough home-comfort for when they travel. Some people keep a prized necklace or a t-shirt of a loved one to wear or cuddle up with when they feel lonely.
What I created was a ‘Home’ album.
From the barebones of a photo album from Mr. Price*, I have filled in as many of my favourite photographs, ticket stubs, notes from friends, birthday and Christmas cards, postcards & other memorabilia from my life that fill me with the warm fuzzies.
Every time I feel like I’m missing home awfully, I plan to whip this bad boy out and take a trip down memory lane. The chances of me not crying at every single page are slim, as I filled this ‘home-journal’ chock-full of emotionally charged photos of my family, letters from loved ones and tickets from past trips abroad. But that is the whole point. If you aren’t crying, you aren’t doing the home-journal right. It is ESSENTIAL that you make it as emotionally raw as possible for yourself. It must be an experience, otherwise it’s just a journal full of regular old stuff.
*Honestly, the most thrilling place in Dublin during lockdown. I would get so excited to go here that it almost felt like Disneyland every time I got in the car to go pick up detergent or dog treats or whatever was on the list that day. Embarrassing, but I still get the jittery-good-vibes at the thought of a wander through Mr. Price, even though lockdown lifted weeks ago…
Say a proper goodbye to your loved ones
Now, this one actually sucks.
Generally, I loathe saying goodbye. It’s too emotional, it’s awkward, it’s often scripted but unscripted – it’s a whole mess. Instead, I much prefer to give a good old ‘Irish goodbye’, slinking out of events, parties and occasions without so much as a wave to say ‘I’m off!’
However, when you’re leaving home for the foreseeable future to live in a completely different country, you will find yourself saying goodbye to someone everyday for at least a month before you leave. Maybe this is a very Irish thing, but I feel as though I have seen almost every single person I’ve ever been close to within the space of eight weeks for various forms of ‘hello-goodbye’ hangouts and check-in/check-outs.
For someone who hates goodbyes, you can imagine I’m sick of saying it at this point. But nevertheless, all of these moments are really important. They cement in your head a little bit more with each one that you really and truly are doing this; that you are going off on your own adventure. It reminds you of those you love and who love you, but where life is just in the way for the moment. Those who will be there no matter where you go, and those for whom you’d travel to the ends of the Earth for.
And don’t forget to leave your contact details with your loved ones! Who knows when you might need a good boatload of Barry’s Tea or Cadbury’s chocolate shipped to you. Some Irish essentials should not have ‘goodbye’ said to them, no matter where you go.
Curate a list of your favourite home comfort foods
This will be further explored in the post topic, ‘The Tastes of Home in Rome’, but suffice to say here that, if you’re someone to whom food means a great deal, it is a no-brainer to bring your favourite recipes with you.
Sit down with yourself and have a deep think about what meals take you right back to your home-spaces, to your friends and family, to your childhood, to your roots.
I have a select list of my favourite cakes, bakes and cook-ups that bring me right back to certain memories, places or people, which I shall reveal throughout the year as I return to these recipes to ‘come home’ when I’m in Rome.
It truly is the easiest way to take care of yourself while you’re struggling with home-sickness. Food is key to wellbeing, for sure, but good food is King.
A List of Pleasant Distractions
I am a big fan of staying a badass, boss, busy b*tch. Rarely do I find myself lost within the day with nothing to do and nothing to explore. However, when I feel under-stimulated or if there’s a dull week in work, those awful tentacles of lonely thoughts and self-doubt can creep up and absolutely ruin my day.
So, to prepare yourself against Boredom Self-Bullying, may I suggest making a long list of sites, museums, events, exhibitions, venues and acts that you most want to see while you are living away from home? This list will ensure that on any given day where you find yourself by yourself and with nothing to do, nobody to see, you can DATE YOURSELF.
This is, for me, the most important skill I have learned in my early years of adulthood. Learning to enjoy being by myself has been insanely empowering. Not only do I enjoy hanging out with myself and going exploring new things with myself, but I feel confident in my abilities to take care of myself in the face of challenges. There is no better feeling than taking yourself off to see some incredible art exhibition and allowing yourself the mental space to discuss with yourself what you feel, experience and learn while there. It’s just a delicious, addictive experience.
I have filled in my whole calendar for the year with the upcoming festivals, temporary exhibitions, tours, events and concerts that Rome has to offer. I have also listed off into different categories (art, music, theatre, culture, food, etc.) different places and sights that I am desperate to see for the first time (or the second time… or quite possibly the fifth time…) so that, when I find myself with a free afternoon, I can whisk myself off on an adventure with relative ease.
Take a Billion Photos of Your Pets Before You Leave!
And now, the part of the post you’ve all been waiting for…
Spam photos of my best friend in the whole world… My Dog. He is most definitely the hardest one to say goodbye to, by far. He is just under 2 years old, and the sweetest little monster to exist upon God’s Green Earth. If I could take him in my suitcase, I would. However, I have to leave him in the loving care of my parents instead.
To prepare myself for the absolute agony of leaving him, I have taken a million photos and videos of him on my phone so that when I miss him, I can just open up my phone’s photo albums and pretend I am with him playing ball in the garden or getting absolutely RKO-ed by him on the daily coming in the door.
And that’s the T on Flying the Nest!
Hopefully, this post gave you some good ideas for preparing yourself to leave your family and friends behind while you go on a big adventure. As painful as goodbye is, it is also so much sweeter to think of how much ‘Home’ will mean when you return again to regale everyone with the tales of your trips and travels.
Ciara O’Síoráin (chi desidera diventare la bella donna figa come gli italiani)
My Top Tips:
- Bring an empty journal with you. This is going to be your Sad Girl Journal, where you document the thoughts that pass through your head while you’re lonely/sad/bored and away from your regular support system. Think about it; if you’re going to have to deal with downs and bad times, you may as well glean some valuable insights into yourself while it’s happening. One of the most beautiful things about being by yourself is that you can really take the time to open up your inner world and take care of some parts of you that may otherwise lie neglected. Remember: you can go anywhere you want, but you’ll always take yourself with you! So, why not work on making that ‘you’ one that serves you best?
- Leave some space in your home-journal for more pictures when you’re away. There is no rule about how many ‘home-spaces’ one can feel connected to, and if you ever choose to leave this new ‘home-space’, you might want some photos that take you back here whenever you look at them. If it’s been a really good home-space for you, they might even make you cry too!
- Organise times with loved ones where you can check-in with each other. Life happens, and people get busy, but I can promise you that keeping a regular check-in with close friends and loved ones is invaluable when you or they are away.
- Accept the risk of emotional vulnerability and tell people that you miss them as you miss them. I can bet they miss you too and that hearing you’re missing them will bring them all the warm fuzzies, which will then in turn give you all the warm fuzzies.
- If you miss your dog, offer to walk a neighbours or put up a sign offering your services. You will get all the doggie cuddles and they get their pet exercised and minded. Win-Win.