The film post done. Now for the personal one. As time ticks on and our exodus looms ever closer I'm thinking less about film and career and more about memories and family. I handed in the notice on our house last week, which gives us three weeks left to pack up and move out. No big deal you might think, but this house has been partly my home since I was born. I was brought home from the hospital to this house. Four generations of my family have walked these creaky chip board floors, my grandparents, my parents, me and it's the house I brought my own children home to.
It's funny, when I first moved into this house, after my grandmother was taken into hospital, it was only supposed to be temporary, a few months, a years tops. I had not yet met my wife, but she was just about to call me from half way round the world. I was sitting on a box in the living room, unpacking, when the phone rang. It was Jeff Sparks from the Heartland Film Festival telling me I had won a crystal heart award. Before he hung up he said a Maryann Koopman would be calling soon after to go through details with me.
She did. Little did either of us know but the first time we ever spoke was in the same spot we would, a year later, have our first kiss, it would be the same spot I would put an engagement ring on her finger, the same spot we would lay our first born to rest on her first night home. Everything changed after I moved into this house. I had been in limbo for many years. Moving around. Drifting through a fog. Trying to figure out who I was and where I was going and all that nonsense twentysomethings do. But when I got here, to this house, where I had so many happy memories, everything slowed down, stopped, became quieter and clearer and things began to fall into place. Life, began to take shape.
But I suppose there comes a time when you have to move on, there is no choice. This house was never meant to be where I stayed. When my wife came to live, it wasn't where we wanted to make our home. When my kids were born, it still wasn't. It's their home, yes, but I think it's given us all it can. It has problems, it needs fixing, we can't afford it, the council wont do it, and if we had the money to buy it, we probably wouldn't buy this house I'm sad to say. So we're moving on. That of course is not to say that my memories, my families memories, are not soaked into these walls. And maybe the council will come in next month, after we're gone, and do for a stranger in a week what the would not do for four generations of our family, but it will still be our house. It will always be, Our house.
Just as Drogheda will always be my home. Just as Ireland will always be where I'm from. Just as being Irish will define me as much as my passion for filmmaking and writing. The bones of my dead rest in her soil. My blood is soaked into the pavement here. I've broken my bones out of her tress and on her unforgiving concrete roads. Of late however, those same roads have proven to hard to walk. And given no promise of a destination that would allow me to promise my family the kind of promises a father should be able to make to his children. I want them to have a better chance than our government has set forth.
To that end, I'd like to say, Enda Kenny, Eamon Gilmore and of course, those who have gone before, Bertie, Biffo and the whole sorry lot, you have stolen my children's future from them. I always thought, growing up, that my children would be Irish, have Irish accents, be soaked in and made of Ireland, but they wont. They will be of Irish heritage yes, they will be Irish, but they'll grow up American. The culture that shapes them will not be the one that shaped me. And, in many ways, they will be different people because of that. But I'm happy for them. I'm excited to see who they become and I will love them regardless, they will be who they are meant to be. But a part of me will always hold melancholy the fact that they could not grow up where I grew up.
Now, the above might make it sound like I'm miserable about moving and that I don't want to. I'm not. I do. I'm excited about this move. I've long had an affinity with the United States. I grew up on American movies and American sitcoms. I was obsessed. I studied American cities in our encyclopedias. I loved American cars. I think I knew the American presidents before I knew the counties of Ireland. I couldn't wait to get there. As soon as I could, I did, on a J1 visa, back in 98, to San Francisco, and I loved it. Sure, I got a heavy dose of reality. Life is no sitcom, no matter where you are. But I did spent the Summer working in a clothes shop right beside the main location for Nash Bridges! I would see Don Johnson and Cheech Miran every morning on the way to work! I loved it. It got into me. And stayed.
When Maryann and I met we just clicked. And while I was of course a professional and a gentleman at the festival in 2006, our friendship and romance couldn't help but bloom. We were swept away in it. And of course, being a whirlwind romance, on opposite sides of the world, between a unemployed Atheist artist and a conservative Christian girl, lets just say we had our doubters. But Love, as they say, conquers all. And it did. All doubt. All prejudice. All hopelessness. And there were plenty of hopeless moments during our time apart. We found we couldn't be apart. And as soon as we could change that, we did.
Maryann moved here on January 1st 2008. Full of hope, dreams, romance. A few weeks later the recession was announced and most of that went out the window. I had to close my production company. All prospects dried up. Maryann took whatever work she could find, including working as a dishwasher. We struggled well below the poverty line for a long time. We managed to get back on our feet, but we never rose much above the poverty line, only hovering slightly above it, always living hand to mouth and God forbid something should go wrong, an appliance break, an unexpected bill land, we needed new shoes, we would be set back for months... I'm not kidding either! I feel like I'm heading into Dickens territory here, but it's just how it's been.
It's time to leave that behind. Start new. Start from a blank page and paint a new, brighter picture of our lives. Start living for us and for our kids. Start building. Getting out of this five year-old rut and never get in another one again as long as we live. So although there is sadness and nostalgia, the reality is, there's nothing but hope, nothing but enthusiasm and excitement for what could be. I'm under no illusions, I know it's going to be hard work, but I'm more then willing to put it in. I'll miss Ireland, I'll miss my home, I'll miss this old falling down house. But not as much as I'm looking forward to building a new life.