Becoming a resident, Part 1

The first step to becoming a resident of a city? Actually moving there. The moving company retrieved the paper and cardboard Wednesday evening, so I can say that we’re moved in.

Just hours before that, I realized a less obvious step in becoming a resident of Dublin. I had to complete an errand quickly, so I hopped on my bike and sped through traffic. I went around and across the Liffey River. As I weaved between buses, I saw exactly the view that appears on standard postcards of Dublin. It was lightly cloudy and the warmest it’s been in weeks.

For the past six weeks, I’ve sauntered through my errands, stopping frequently to admire the city. I was, in effect, still a long-term tourist. I’d say that I was thinking like an university student who spends a summer abroad. I had life’s little tasks and inconveniences, unlike someone on holiday, but my mental state was that of a tourist nonetheless.

Anita's pic of Custom House on LiffeyWednesday, I noticed the Custom House as I zipped across a bridge. I didn’t ignore it, but I didn’t feel the awe that caused me to say, “I love Dublin,” whenever anyone asked. The Custom House was just there — impressive, yes, but mainly a traffic pinch-point for my purposes at the time.

In other words, I’m thinking more like a resident of Dublin. I wouldn’t say that I’m more callous to the beauty of this city. In fact, I’m finding new things to love all the time. But what I rarely feel is a peculiar, emotional response to the city, a sense of vast possibilities around every street-corner. It was so strong sometimes that I literally felt it in my chest. It felt just like the anticipation of something wonderful — like a thick envelope from your university of choice, a long-awaited engagement ring, or an unexpected recognition of your hard work.

I haven’t felt that lately. I still have the optimism and sense of possibilities, but it’s more intellectual and removed. I welcome the shift, because I believe it is necessary to live here, in the actual city, rather than some self-centered fantasy. A few weeks ago, I actually said that the city specially welcomed me, because the weather was excellent for my first week. That was hyperbole, of course, but it did reflect the self-orientation that tourists have — must have — in order to “experience” a new place.

1 Comment to “Becoming a resident, Part 1”

  1. Theodora said...
    16 July 2007

    I completely understand exactly what you are talking about! I have often felt the same thing about NYC. The everyday hustle and bustle doesn’t bring about moments of breathless excitement about the place I am standing that very moment, but I can still get those fabulous moments anytime I need it (