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Monday 20 November 2017

Geraldine Gittens: 'We fell out of love with home '

Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

THREE weeks after our wedding day last year, my husband and I jumped on a plane to New Zealand in search of a new adventure.

Our thirst to leave Ireland had been brewing for a while. Luckily, we'd worked throughout the downturn, but the idealism we'd felt in college was lost – and we found ourselves consumed by the rhetoric of the recession.

We didn't dare to dream of buying our own home. Life felt a little banal. We'd fallen out of love with our own beautiful country.

We applied for two roles in an Australasian media company, and to our delight we got them. Our new employer clicked with our wish to travel at this pivotal point in our lives.

The minute we landed, we fell in love with Wellington – the small capital city nestled into an inlet on the Tasman Sea. We walked along its coast, hiked its hills, and camped in national parks nearby. And we savoured the novelty of a Christmas in the sun, and my first birthday in the snow (June).

We met people whose stories opened our eyes. Kiwis who had lost their homes in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and a young South African woman who'd emigrated because of the violent crime in her home town.

And we even felt earthquakes ourselves.

Last July while we were in work, everything started to shake. For the first time in my career, I saw a room full of media people abandon deadline. We dived under our desks and waited. I thought of my family, and I thought of the safe turf back home. And as the quake's thunder passed on, the only thing in the world that mattered to me was that we'd survived. As time passed, I started to fall back in love with Ireland again – our land, our culture and our people.

Soon I thought of returning to Dublin again. I thought of our friends and the clubs we could join and the pubs we could go to. I thought of the newspapers and the radio, and the characters that fill the airwaves. And I looked forward to the winter cold and open fires.

We arrived into Dublin airport last month. Hopeful for our future, we were excited to be home. Every now and then, when I'm sitting in this office in Dublin, I feel the ground shake. My heart jumps and I think I'm back in that moment when the earthquake hit Wellington. But then the relief kicks in and I realise it's only maintenance works upstairs, or someone's feet pounding past. And I think to myself, ah, I'm home.

Irish Independent

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