Last week’s series of ‘Failure to Launch’ showcased Karen and her mother Geraldine, who shared their experiences living together in South Dublin while Karen worked in a law firm. Since then Karen has been living in India for a year and a half, completing a fellowship at Ashoka University and training as a meditation coach while living in an Ashram. With the passing of distance and time, this week’s follow-up interview is one of reflection and recognition between mother and daughter, and a rumination of the quality of life for younger generations in Ireland.
In part two of Failure to Launch I chatted with Karen and her mother Geraldine, who spent one year living together in their family home in South County Dublin when Karen was twenty four. The conversations took place a year and a half ago, when Karen was preparing to move to India for a fellowship and contemplating a career as a barrister. In this revealing and insightful interview we talk money, fears of the future, and the difficulties having sex when you still live at home. Karen continues to live in India, where she is living in an Ashram and training as a meditation coach. Next week’s piece will see Karen and Geraldine reflect on their own and each others answers one year on, having spent twelve months living on other sides of the world.
We watched with a mixture of bitterness and resentment as the sweet interlude of salaried jobs, minimum responsibilities and a home to call our own, before the onslaught of mortgages and babies, shrank into nothingness, meanwhile the worth of our parents’ investments, the houses we occupied, multiplied in value right under our feet.
If I had to classify my relationship with alcohol over the years I would describe as complicated, but in an Irish context, entirely normal.
Like most people my alcohol consumption rotates around my social life so the bulk my drinking is done between Friday and Sunday. If I avoid alcoholic social events, it is entirely plausible that I could go stretches of weeks without drinking at all. However once I’m geared up for a night out, I’d lash the stuff back like its going out of fashion. I had known for a long time that my alcohol consumption and the surrounding patterns of behaviour were unhealthy, and it was this dissatisfaction that prompted me to join in on the ‘Dry January’ hype.
It wasn’t until I was older that I truly understood the force, the institution that is Female Friendship. Growing up as a child in the segregation of Irish schooling, I was only friends with other girls like me. We were forbidden from interacting with ‘the boys’ during school hours, and friendship in my eyes was a sacrament that only existed between members of the same sex. At lunchtime we would peek out the back window and those that hit puberty long before I did would point out they boys they had kissed at the weekend, or ‘scored’ as we used to call it back then. Before we even had time to know one another as friends, boys quickly came to hold the position of sexual objects: to be kissed, fawned over, or held at arms length. In my little world, the friendship was female.
I think it is nice that someone wants to get to know the genderless“I only see people, I don’t see colour or gender.” I’ve heard it said countless times, a self-effacing testament to the speaker’s ability to see the true person unobscured by colour, race, gender, sexuality or religion. With such decisiveness, they detach themselves from such bodily or social hindrances, and get to all the good stuff, the real stuff that makes us who we really are. Up until a while ago I would have counted myself amongst such people, but now I’m not too sure. The motivations of this sentiment are admirable, but I’ve been wondering lately whether it is little more than a fanciful ideal. Can we really unearth the unadorned personhood, shining in its glorious purity beneath the pressures and prejudices of the mortal world?, sexless, colourless and nationless Ellie, but even I’m not sure who she is or whether she even exists.
With New Years having just passed under our nose, it is once again that time of year where we place ourselves under the microscope for a rigorous self-inspection. With a season of gluttonous self-indulgence brought to a close, the sequential leap from depravity to punishment fits in nicely with the spirit of the religious festivities. For every drink or pie too many there is a sin to atone for, and the tallying up of our annually- accumulated vices sweeps us into the new year on a fresh wave of disgust and loathing. This year however I found the idea of waiting till New Years to change my life positively comical. With self-improvement and wellness very much in vogue, tearing yourself to shreds only to build yourself back up again is an year round, if not daily, activity.