As an Irish girl just out of college, I’m finding it extremely difficult to adjust to the ways of the dreaded “real world”. My arts degree in English and Philosophy was fun but futile, and all I seemed to have earned from that time spent in third-level education was several embarrassing drunken stories, a long-suffering boyfriend and no prospect of future employment. The latter is due to the current Irish economic climate, might I add, and fully unrelated to the drunken stories.
Anyway, we did what every other young unemployed person does in Ireland, and bought our tickets to Australia. We travelled with another couple, Fat Swine and Sour Puss, and left in the first week of February of 2012, amid tearful goodbyes to family and friends.
We were delayed for three hours at our stop-over in Abu Dhabi and I smoked endless cigarette after cigarette in the stifling indoor airport smoking rooms. Sour Puss was silent and sullen, and as the corresponding girlfriend, I had to attempt in vain to drag some conversation from her, while Fat Swine and The Boyfriend chatted amicably about how shit it was that the plane had been delayed. They were quickly sated when the airline handed us coupons for a free Burger King meal– we are Irish, after all. Finally, we boarded the plane and the first three hours were an absolute hell of turbulence and arm-rest-clutching from yours truly. The Boyfriend snored and farted loudly at my side.
We touched down in Tullamarine and eyed the sniffer dogs warily. I’ve seen enough of Nothing To Declare to scare myself stupid, innocent as I was. We passed through hassle-free and stepped out into the night air. The air was stifling and heavy. Fat Swine had organised a house to live in for the first month through the contacts he’d established applying for jobs at home in Ireland. The Boyfriend and I had booked a hotel and due to the delay, we had paid the two hundred dollars for a mere five hours in the bed. We watched as Fat Swine and Sour Puss were greeted at the Arrivals by a man in a cap and a suit with a name-placard. I smoked an entire Marlboro Light in one inhale as we watched them clamber into a limousine and drive off into the night. The Boyfriend and I hauled our luggage to the bus. We were shuffled to a station seven blocks away from our hotel – seven up-hill blocks. We arrived at the hotel and everyone was Asian and finding our accents impossible to comprehend. The Boyfriend drifted off to sleep within minutes. I looked out the window for a while at the tall buildings. Exhausted, my thoughts drifted back to that last tearful hug with my little sister and I welled up – as a girl does. Instinctively, I reached into my pocket and opened the box of cigarettes to gape, horrified, at its emptiness.
I opened my suitcase to put on my pyjamas.
And realised I’d forgotten to pack any.