I made up my mind to leave Ireland sometime in my second month of living with a hole in the roof of my attic bedroom in a shared house.
I’m not from Ireland, so leaving was not some immigrant story. The hole in the roof was not a mater of squalor or deprivation. I feel the need to mention this because, in my experience, people only hear the things that confirm what they already picture when think of a place. I started saying “overseas” when asked where I live, because idiots are always saying “top of the morning to ya.” And, it turns out, Ireland is Jerusalem for sloppy drunk girls who like accents and the dad-bod.
My time in Ireland wasn’t drunk and green. The girl I was with there wasn’t typical of Ireland or anywhere.
Kit was someone who could see the fun and beauty in a soggy roof hole. She would wear her coat, with the hood up, on trips to the bathroom and always make this big thing of taking it off again, twirling the waist belt like a striptease.
One time she bought me a plant and put it under the leak saying, “That’s the only way it’ll get watered, knowing you.”
Which is not to say the hole in the ceiling was a metaphor or a signifier for a shambolic relationship. It couldn’t have been because, unlike most of our issues, I was the one to see it first.
A dark stain in the plaster had been growing pretty much since I arrived. The night it started dripping onto my desk, I moved the desk, put out my waste bin to catch the drip, and went back to bed. A few nights later, a deluge broke through where the plaster had been damming rainwater between the ceiling and roof beams and brought down a soggy tongue of yellow insulation. From then on, there was draft in my room and the rain came in directly.
To repair it would have been expensive and not really my responsibility, considering my status as attic-dweller separated me by at least a couple degrees from the leaseholder and the landlord.
My housemates greeted the hole with apathy and amusement.
Kit and I found it bonding to come sopping and start each fuck with the chaste desire to get warm.
But, of course, this got old. Nobody likes wearing a winter coat that won’t dry or sleeping in a room that smells wet. I could have moved, but something told me I wasn’t going to get a rarer memory of Ireland than this. So when I got tired of the hole, time had come to head West.
Back in New England, in the spring, I would text Kit pictures of things they don’t have in Ireland, like whitetail deer and wild turkeys in the backyard, and complain to her about the bugs that I would trade for the rain and the damp any day. She would reply with grey skies and sneaky pictures of the billowing short-sleeve button-down “granddad shirts” Irish men over 40 wear on sunny days.
She texts me “Goodnight” around dinnertime, and I say “Good Morning” when she’s having lunch.