My Serendipity Friend

Life is surprising. When you least expect it you might discover something new or meet someone who changes your life forever. Some may call this luck or chance or coincidence. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. All I know is that when these pleasant little surprises come along they always make me stop and take notice. Such was the case this week when I met Leah: my serendipity friend.

On Tuesday we had to go to our local Garda (police) station to renew our registration for living in Ireland (it’s hard to believe that we’ve already been here for almost a year!).IMG_4472

The registration process is a thrilling experience. So thrilling, in fact, that they only allow you to go through it once a year (just kidding, it’s annoying and tedious and I hate it). Part of the Thrilling Registration Process involves sitting inside a large concrete room with dozens of other people waiting to register with the government. There is one line and one police officer assigned to help all of the people in the queue. Each person in line takes at least 10 minutes to register. The immigration office is open for about two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon and when they are closed they just shut the window and if you’re still in line, tough luck– you can come back tomorrow. They don’t care if you have squirrely children or a job to get to in the morning. You just have to get there, find your place in the queue, and hope they move quick enough that you don’t have to come back and do it all over again because you missed your narrow window of opportunity.

Since we already went through this whole registration process last year when we entered the country I knew a bit of what to expect. I planned accordingly (meaning I brought movies on my iPhone, snacks and books to occupy our young immigrants during the Thrilling Waiting Time). Turns out, I was a hero. Within minutes of sitting down with our movie and popcorn (okay, they were just rice cakes) I had a crowd of about 6 kids who had wandered over from the queue to join in our fun. I spent the morning acting as playgroup host to the children of the Thrilling Registration Process–we watched movies, played Angry Birds, read books, and ran laps around the plant in the middle of the room. Time flew by and within 2 hours we were registered and on our way.

After I dropped Jon off at work I decided to take the boys to a new-to-me park in the city center. When we got to the playground there were lots of children running around. One little boy caught my eye, though–it was the same little boy that I’d just read shark books to all morning at the Garda station. What a coincidence!  He recognized us right away and ran up to say hi to David.

I saw his mom across the park and I decided to go over and introduce myself to her (“Hi! You don’t know me but I read shark books to your son this morning. No, I’m not a creepy stalker. See, he knows me!”). Her name was Leah and she was at the park with her two children and another expat friend with her two children. We spent the better part of an hour talking–about our kids, about living in Ireland, about where we came from, about how our husbands have these really cool jobs here and yet we are legally barred from working in this country, about travel. Meanwhile, our boys were having so much fun playing together that I was sure I’d never be able to convince David that we had to leave the park at some point. It was really cool.

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When it was time for us to leave I had meant to go back and say goodbye to Leah, but then The Great Poop Debacle happened and I literally had to run out of the park without saying anything to anyone. Oh well, I thought, I’m sure they didn’t even notice that we left. We’d only just met them, after all–and a very pleasant meeting it was.

On Wednesday I brought the boys to the zoo. We’d been at the zoo for about an hour and were playing on the playground when I looked up and saw none other than our friends from the day before. I went up to Leah and told her, again, that I was not stalking her. She smiled and said that this time they must have been stalking us since we were there first this time. David and her son, Yousef, went back to playing together just like they had the day before. David was having so much fun playing that he chose to pee on a tree instead of walk 5 extra feet to the toilet that was next to the playground–which wouldn’t have been such a big deal except that he was having so much fun playing that he didn’t stop running while he was peeing and the end result was…messy. I’d left his spare change of clothes up in my car, but Leah had some extra pants for Yousef that she said we could borrow until we got back to the parking lot.

So, as it turns out, we spent the whole rest of the day wandering the zoo with Leah and Yousef, our serendipity friends. Our friends who we met by chance not once, not twice, but three times this week. This time we exchanged phone numbers, so our next meeting might be planned rather than left up to fate. Whatever happens, though, we had a wonderful week with our new friends. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was luck, maybe it was chance. Whatever it was, we found something good–and that’s enough explanation for me.

 

Getting Established

One of my favorite–and most dreaded–parts about moving somewhere new is getting established in my new home–getting past the unpacking and the millions of phone calls to set everything up and finally starting to settle in to this place and find my place in it. It is my favorite part of the move because getting “established” allows me to feel like I belong here and I’m not just some lost tourist. It’s my least favorite part because it’s hard. I’m actually a pretty shy and introverted person so it takes a bit of courage for me to step out there and get involved. It can also take some time and patience to discover what opportunities and resources are available and to break into a new social circle. Thankfully, Ireland has been kind to me. This week I’ve had some exciting breakthroughs in the “getting established” department.

Yesterday I took the boys to our local library so we could get library cards and check out some new books (the 4 books I carried with us on the airplane are getting sooooo BORING).

Each of the boys got his own library card that he can use to check out 10 books at a time from the children’s department. The boys’ cards were free, but I decided to also buy myself a card for 15 Euro because I know I’ll use it. I went ahead and checked out a few books on Irish history from the vast selection of books on that matter (I think about 20% of the library is devoted to books on Irish history)–figured it would be good to know a bit about what I’m getting myself into here. I also signed David up for the library summer reading program. If he reads 15 books he gets a shiny “gold” medal. He’s already 2 books away from his prize (could be due to the fact that we checked out 10 books on soccer…er…football…from the library yesterday).

This morning we did something that got us legally established here in Ireland: we registered our visas at the garda (police) station.

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As you can tell from David’s expression, it was an exciting venture. Actually, it wasn’t too bad. We were the first ones in line when the immigration office opened and they got us processed in about 10 minutes. Jon and I both have special visitor/worker permit cards that we have to carry with us at all times just in case somebody suspects we’ve outstayed our welcome.

After I dropped Jon off at work I headed out to Fota to meet up with a mum’s group (how cute is that…mum?!) from our church. Every Wednesday they go to this place called Go Safari to hang out. It’s an indoor play area for kids with food and drinks–perfect for hanging out while the kids run around and burn off some of their boundless energy.

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I had a great time getting to know the 6 other ladies and their sweet little kids. They gave me some good tips on where to shop for the cheapest nappies (diapers) and who to contact for babysitting. Cha-ching! David and Jacob both loved playing in the ball pit–so much so that I couldn’t even get a photo of the 3 of us together before one of them would try to squirm away to jump in the balls again:

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On Friday we will be going to get our PPS Numbers (kind of like Irish Social Security Numbers). After we have our PPS numbers we can set up our local bank account–something we’re really looking forward to since we’ve been racking up enough foreign transaction fees on our credit cards to purchase a small car. Unless you’re in Ireland. In which case, enough to rent a car for a month. Or maybe just buy a week’s worth of groceries. Oy…