In many ways I am a peasant.
My Mum may disagree, but I stand firm.
And in all ways peasant, I am a proud card-carrying member.
Half of me comes from the hills of Donegal, in a place called Ballyloskey, under a rusted tin-roofed unpainted cottage that in the late 1800s once slept 11 when it was meant for 4.
Today my family lives down the hill, comfortably well I might add, as part of the garda (police), as educators, as retired fire captains.
But we always know from whence we came, and we will forever share.
Every time I am home (as it is called when you visit), I drive up the winding road and spend some quiet time at the old abandoned “homestead” that has been slowly crumbling in an overgrown meadow under a large looming Ash tree.
I understand my life when I sit up there, on the rocks, next to the house. I hear music in the wind and voices in the leaves. And when I come down, I feel mystical. I feel strong-like-bull.
I will always consider myself working class thru and thru.
I worked a full-time job my last 2 years of high school, and have ever since. And I funded my own way to a university degree with small grants and student loans. There was no alternative then. There was no free limitless debit card for me.
It took me so long to pay off those loans that when the financial officer informed me I was all settled up, I didn’t trust her and asked that she check her records again, just to be sure.
Clothes I wear ’til they literally disappear.
My favourite button up is an oversized men’s red corduroy that once belonged to my Uncle Donald. I’ve washed it so often that it now has holes in the pockets and is fraying apart at the seams.
Much to the shagrin of anyone around me, I have zero thought about wearing that Uncle Donald shirt out in public. I liked it when it was given to me intact. I like it today, worn in. I feel connected when I wear that piece of clothing. I’m happy to have it protecting my shoulders. Oh, and this is key, I simply couldn’t care less what anyone thinks about what I wear.
My Uncle Donald hand-me-down is my coat of many colours.
I charmingly (my word) refer to the house that I rent as the “poor wee cottage.” Why? Because unless it is perfect weather outside, like a blue-sky Autumn day, then this 1940’s bungalow might as well be without windows.
It’s a pain to keep cool and impossible to keep warm. And before I had it sealed, fumigated and deep cleaned, it was also home to a family of mice and odd insects.
But I’ve grown fond of this poor wee cottage. It has character. It’s not like the others. It’s flawed yet has charisma … it’s kind of like, well, a little like me.
There is entire other half of me of course. An almost other personality – one I call my Precious Ass syndrome.
That’s the one that only buys kitchen washing-up liquid from England. And doesn’t believe in Olive Oil not made in Spain or Greece. And whose annual budget for facial moisturiser could almost finance a plane ticket to Europe.
But that’s for another time. Besides, it doesn’t fit into this Jean Valjean narrative.
And just in case I don’t get to that story any time soon … It’s called Fairy Platinum and kicks Dawn’s behind any day. It’s so good, “soaking overnight” is a lame excuse for not finishing up the dishes.
I’m just sayin …