Living in Kilkenny

June 01, 2017
This essay first appeared two years ago on danielleolavario.blogspot.com


My first night in our new apartment downtown did not come without a haze of uneasiness. Having lived in the suburbs both in Ireland and in the Philippines my whole life, I've always associated being present in town as a sort of "daytime" event. Spending the night in the centre, two minutes walk from High Street, was very strange to me. However, the presence of familiar things- my books, my clothes, my own bed, and my own desk- soon erased my uneasiness, and the sounds outside my window, of talking and singing (mostly from the pubs), of car engines starting and dying, eventually became nothing more but background noise.



I'd be lying if I said that I didn't romanticise living in the centre of the city. I have images in my head of writers such as Hemingway or Orwell penning their greatest novels in a dim apartment in the centres of Paris or London. But I've always thought that I would do well living downtown, and having now spent my first night here, I can vouch for that, and say that it is very true. Being here genuinely gives me a sort of artistic inspiration, as ridiculous as that sounds. It is the reason why I'm writing this right now! Being here, existing here, knowing that there are people who are awake outside my window at any hour, hearing them perform their everyday jobs, or sometimes even hearing them drunkenly stumble from one corner of the street to another, gives me a sense of... I don't know what exactly. Belongingness? Probably. Whatever it is, it is enough of an inspiration to push me to write creatively about something other than fashion, an activity that I haven't done in months.



This morning, my mother sent me out to the shops to buy breakfast. I ended up being way too early- all the shops were still closed- but I have to say that the morning walk wound up being one of my most favourite activities so far in the city. There is something both unsettling and fascinating about being in the centre with hardly anybody in there. No pedestrians, no cars, just you and the closed-off shops. It is a feeling of liberty mixed with a strange sort of exhilaration, as if I'm doing something that I shouldn't be doing. I didn't feel scared, as I thought I would if I should walk down High Street only a few hours after the drink-filled frenzy in the pubs from the night before. No, at the contrary, I felt very at ease. Content, almost. For a few minutes, I've forgotten my own worries (the results, the results, the results), but instead, I paid particular and undivided attention to the buildings around me, some of which I never paid any mind in the last 6 years that I have been living here.



Our house itself is, in every sense of the word, lovely. We were lucky enough to find an apartment in the city with three spacious bedrooms with built-in storage, a balcony, and two bathrooms, for only a relatively small price of rent every month (it is 100 euro less than our previous rent price). The only downside is the small kitchen and the non-existent dining room, but I think it is a price we're willing to pay in exchange for the amenities I just described, as well as the accessibility of the place. As well as that, the ceilings are quite high, even higher than what we had in the suburbs. The placement of my window, too, is quite delightful. I can look down on one of the streets branching off High Street and see all sorts of different people. Even now, as I am writing this, I see a woman in heels and a pencil skirt walking quite briskly with coffee in her one hand and keys on the other, a knitted mustard scarf wound around her neck and the sound of her heels reverberating throughout the street. I see a gentleman with very ginger hair, dapperly dressed in an all-black tuxedo, one hand in his pocket (I wouldn't be surprised if it contained a pocket-watch), striding down the street with an air of quiet confidence. There's a tourist, an elderly Asian man of about 60, wearing a green scarf and a navy raincoat. He is taking pictures of everything around him, from the street on which he is standing- a bird's eye view of his runners- to the tops of the buildings. He just looked up at me, smiled, and pointed his camera straight to my direction. I waved at him and grinned.



In a way, I feel a little resentful knowing that I will not be able to spend as much time as I would've like to in this place. I will hopefully be going off to college soon enough and most of my time will be spent either in Dublin or Cork, possibly in a place that isn't as good as this one. But I still feel very lucky to have been able to spent as much time as I will here. It is one place that I'm sure I will remember when we finally move on from it.

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