Live and learn

It was January and the start to a new year, a new way of living, a new town and a new sense of independents.

I had moved my stuff into the apartment that I would share with two other people that I had yet to even speak to before on the Sunday afternoon. It was a new building but a small apartment so although I had my own room, the other two people shared the second room and we all used the shared living space.

The apartment was finished to a poor standard. The walls were painted but there was no plaster on them. Wiring was surface mounted using what seemed to be metal industrial sockets. The apartment I had was on the ground floor and was actually quite cold but I didn’t care. This was my first place away from home that I was actually paying for my self and no one was helping with anything so I was happy. Oh, plus, they offered free Internet access so that was kind of a big selling point.

I sat that evening with my room resembling some kind of order as a result of the previous five hours organization. Worrying about the people who would be living with me, about how I’d manage things like cooking, cleaning, money and living! Although I’d spent most of my time from the age of five in a boarding school in Dublin and therefore being away from my family in Drogheda was nothing strange for me, being away now was a very different feeling. I suppose, I felt the same as any other student living away from home for the first time. In my mind it was different though. At the time, I thought I had more to learn. I thought things would be harder for me. How was I supposed to learn how to wash clothes properly? How would I cook! How would I survive every month on such little money!

I knew that my parents would have no reservation in letting me move back home but that was never an option. I was absolutely and completely determined that this would work.

So, still I sat at the desk. Waiting, watching the time go by while I waited for the other two people to arrive.

8:30! 9PM! 9:30! Still they didn’t arrive. I was going crazy with the anticipation. I was sure they were told that someone new was moving into the apartment but did they know that he was blind? Would they react badly to it? Would they be easy to get on with? Would they be what I thought was the normal student and spend their time drinking and smoking?

It was 10PM before they arrived. I sat listening for a while before I could even consider leaving the room. The loudest person had a very thick Dublin accent and he seemed to be very sharp with his words. I over analysed everything he said. Waiting for a moment when I could come out without interrupting them. The second person sounded less intimidating. He sounded like he was from Navin or around that area. He spoke just as much as the first person though and seemed to have been in an argument with someone the week before.

Before I could get out, two women came in. I assumed at the time that that they were with the two men who would be living with me. They all immediately began talking very loudly. One of the women was quieter but seemed to be battling to make her self sound as confident and as out going as the other. The louder of the two seemed as crude, obnoxious and as crazy as you’ll find anywhere else and I loved it!

I was intimidated though. At the time, this kind of woman who was as certain of her self and who was as certain of the power she controlled over men was a very frightening and thrilling person.

I finally found my chance and made an appearance. I still wasn’t confident with the layout of the apartment so as confidently as possible, I marched forward to greet the people that I was going to have to live with.

The encounter was awkward for me but seemed to be as natural as walking for them. They were very comfortable and seemed to completely ignore the fact that I was blind. The only thing the quieter of the two men said in relation to it was that I could shout if I needed anything.

My awkwardness, apprehension and timidness didn’t disappear easily though. In fact, it stayed with me for about a month.

I listened, observed and spent as much time out of my room as I could attempting to get to know them. Gradually becoming more confident and comfortable.

Weeks and months went by and the mindset that I had struggled with when moving into the apartment seemed to be dissipating. I began to get to know a lot of people from the apartment building that I lived in and the realization that most of them really didn’t pay any consideration to the fact that I couldn’t see began to teach me one of the most important lessons of my life so far. That being that for the most part, preconceptions can be reversed by initial impressions and that most people don’t think about disability all that much so don’t really have deep rooted misconceptions in the first place! That realization was a huge kick in the ass for me and was the foundation of my fantastic social life in college.

As time went on I became almost infatuated by the louder of the two women. She was not as I previously expected involved with one of the men who I was living with and in fact wasn’t tied down at all! Her wild and spontaneous personality had me hooked and I spent a lot of time with her.

In February, things started to go my way. Being the shy, quiet and hay, lets face it, inexperienced person I was, I had no idea what I was doing or how to proceed.

But, proceed we did. All the way to May. Hay! That was a long time for me! I was new at all this stuff. And I genuinely couldn’t understand why a person who got on with absolutely everyone liked me so much.

Anyway, I’ll skip forward.

Oh, I need to tell you something funny! At the time, I didn’t have a phone that spoke so I needed to rely on someone else to read my text messages. I could send them so it was just the responses I had problems with. I got all sorts of people to read my messages. Family, friends, even people on busses! I remember on Saturday afternoon, I had to get my mother to read a text message. This was usually fine. I’ve quite a good relationship with my mother so not much could embarrass me. And, let’s face it, I had to read the message some how and there was no one else there! To my horror though, the message read something like this:

Not doing much at the moment. Sitting on my bed watching porn.

See the kind of person she was? Hahahahahahahaha.

My mother probably went a shade of bright red and after clearing her throat calmly and cheerfully said,

Darragh, you might want to get someone else to read those messages in future.

Needlessly to say, I never got someone I didn’t know or a family member to read those messages ever again.

All through these few months, I got on with another person who was a really good friend Lets call him Mr. X for the moment. From telling me that chicken was best cooked by boiling it to walking with me back from the other side of Dundalk with the two of us far too drunk to remember after a college Christmas party.

So, back to the woman. That’s more interesting anyway isn’t it?

I remember in May, we had just finished the final exams for the college term and I was going to walk with her into town. Along the way, we met up with another friend of ours who walked with us. Two minutes in to the conversation, the friend who met us commented on large bight marks all over her neck. Without even considering it, she explained how Mr. X seemed to take lumps out of her. In my disbelief I probed further. It was completely incomprehendable let alone why someone would cheat but how someone could actually so openly acknowledge it! They continued talking completely oblivious to what had just happened. We got another five minutes down the road before I made an excuse that I’d forgotten something and turned back.

Unable to figure out a reason behind all this I walked back to my apartment and closed the door to my room behind me. Viciously I packed a bag and left for the first bus without even checking the time. I sat at the bus stop for an hour waiting while the events of the past two hours made me dizzy.

How could she cheat!
How could he cheat!
Why!
How did she so openly admit it!
What would he say?
Would I get revenge?

Dozens of questions flooded my mind. I sat gripping my cane for the entire hour. I got on the bus and continued gripping my cane. I arrived at Drogheda and my fingers and knuckles hurt with the tight grip I had kept on my cane. Fury doesn’t begin to explain how angry I was.

So, in my parent’s house I sat. In a quiet room with my thoughts continuing to drive me crazy.

It was later that night before I snapped out of it. A friend called me to invite me for a drinkso I jumped at the offer.

At 11:30 though, after my mood had not improved for the entire day, I jumped on a late bus that stopped right out side the pub back to Dundalk.

I wanted to confront Mr. X. Luckily though, he didn’t answer his door. I called and demanded an explanation. His reasoning was

We got drunk. Thing

s happen. I saw her outside looking for a lighter to have a smoke. I invited her up to my room to get one and one thing led to another.

That was a great reason wasn’t it?

I called her afterward to get an explanation from her. I think she had been on something because she was much more remorseful than she had been earlier that day.

The rest as they say is history.

Why did I write this and the post titled “The lowest point” yesterday? Simple. Shitty things happen from time to time. Things go so badly that we don’t know how to get through it. I’ve had bad experiences that seem like a walk in the park for some people but for me, they were the worse things imaginable. The whole cheating thing for example made me suspicious for years afterward. So much so that I couldn’t trust anyone for fear of them doing that again for years. But, even with that mistrust I was still caught out again. Some things you learn along the way, some make you stronger, some leave a scar that you’re stuck with but most of the shit that hits you can be washed off so you can start the next day smelling of roses. God that sounds really stupid doesn’t it? I’m leaving it there though because the point is a good one.

Oh, to finish up the apartment side of the story, the two fellas who I lived with were great people. They wouldn’t exactly be the people I’d like to hang around with but they’d not do anyone any harm. I remember, I was the last one to leave the apartment that term so I had to clean it. I got rid of bags and bags of rubbish and more buts than I ever want to see again. It was a horrible job. But hay! It showed me that I never wanted to live with people in that environment ever again.

What happened with Mr. X and the woman? Nothing! I don’t think they saw each other again. But, she’s keeping something from him. Not something that’s fair but it’s something I have no say in.


One Response to Live and learn

  1. It takes a strong person to be able to write this for everyone to see. I admire you for it especially since you said some of these times were the hardest in your life to deal with.
    Hugs,
    Tara