I COULD try to stake a claim for being someone that likes to go against the grain, a pioneer who refuses to conform with the masses and instead blaze his own trail. It would be just as easy though to make the argument that I am an imbecile who decides upon his path by merely going against conventional wisdom.
One year and four months ago I left my decent, safe job as a journalist in order to travel to Canada with a bunch of my buddies. Several people tried to convince me not to do it, one lady actually went so far as to promise me that I would never again have such a good job and I would regret the decision for the rest of my life.
My mother, although not quite so doomsdayish in her predictions, did also warn me of the dangers of leaving a good job with the country in its current state but she knew as well as I did that I couldn't be swayed. I realised the risk involved in being one of the only people in the country to leave a decent-paying job just for the hell of it but I could never have forgiven myself if I hadn't done it.
Had I stayed in Limerick I would have developed a lot more as a writer in the last 16 months and would no doubt have widened my network of contacts which is now mostly defunct. At the same time though, if I had remained at home for safety's sake, my mind would have been eaten away with thoughts of what I could have been doing in Canada with my friends every time I got pissed off with work or the everyday routine. I could not have lived with the "What if?"s.
Also, it's not as if I have nothing to show from my time in Vancouver thus far with the most rewarding prize being my very own Canadian. If I had known that a lady like her was within my grasp over here, I wouldn't have spared a thought on the merits of remaining in my job in Ireland but would have jumped on a plane with my first pay cheque.
Romantic endeavours aside however, I have also learned how to do manly things such as landscape, service machinery and frame a house this year. In varying degrees, I have enjoyed the work I have done and I am certainly glad of the new skills, experiences and friends made. What I am most grateful for from my various careers in Canada though, is the strengthening of my conviction that I want to write for a living.
In all honesty, I was able to keep up with the hardest grafters over here and I impressed all those who took a chance on employing me, but I also learned that labouring is not the life for me and therein lies the benefit of leaving the comfy job at home. Because I stepped right into working as a reporter after University I did not appreciate it, as is the case with all things for which you don't have to fight.
But having experienced some of the alternatives, I now know that I loved the work of meeting and talking with people, of searching for stories and creating something that occasionally might have made others think, chuckle or just pass the time. It took over a year for me to realise it but this is an epiphany I may never have had were it not for the decision to pack my bags and leave in May of 2009.
Unfortunately the kind of work I now realise that I love is hard to come by over here, especially if you are technically an illegal immigrant. Out of all my friends that came over here in 2009 I am the only one remaining and although I'd get a slagging for admitting it, I miss them and all the other friends I've left at home.
Canadians are as nice a people as you could ever find, I've no problem saying that as a nation they are more welcoming and obliging than the Irish. The one thing lacking though at times, is the "craic". It's not at all that they're boring or not fun in any regard, it's just that the mentality and the humour is different.
That Irish element of underlying lunacy and the appreciation of unpolished roguery just doesn't feature here for the most part. Even though both elements can be as much a curse as a blessing, I feel as though I need them around me. It has occurred to me that my homesickness may only have been brought on by viewing home through rose-tinted glasses but just as I had to know if my hopes for Canada would be realised, I now need to know if my recollections of home are accurate.
With that and my predilection for going against conventional wisdom (the wisdom being that Ireland is the last place you should be going right now) in mind, I have decided to come home. It won't be for a while yet but it will be sooner rather than later. And just like I did over a year ago, my girlfriend will be leaving her home to see if Ireland lives up to the most likely unrealistic expectations I have created for her.