I need a holiday after my holiday.

I found myself hiding in my bedroom as my niece (3) and nephew (6 months) went into hysterics in the kitchen below. Hiding under the bed would be rather pathetic and undignified for someone my age (39), but I did have my laptop and Netflix. In Ireland, Netflix still shows Doctor Who and one of my favourite episodes is from season 4, with Donna Noble as the Doctor’s companion, called Turn Left. Donna finds herself in a parallel universe where she wasn’t present at a crucial point to save the Doctor and the world has literally gone to sh*t. Rose, a previous companion has been pulled across from another universe (I love sci-fi) to this bizarre dimension and tells Donna to come with her. Donna, who has endured disaster after disaster, is at her breaking point and says to Rose:

“Don’t, just don’t. I’m tired (camera pulls in for a close up), I’m so tired (with tears streaming down her face).

I wipe my own tears away as I have never felt more exhausted in my whole life. I have been told on occasion that I am a drama queen, and that observation is ringing in my head as I asses what I am doing weeping on my bed. Am I over reacting? I ask myself.

Flying home to Dublin for a holiday is often like visiting another universe. I have been living in Vancouver for over nine years and coming home always feels strange. Simultaneously, everything is the same and different. The buildings are still there, the people sound the same and the food, God, the food is the same. Yet, everyone is older, having children and, in some cases, dying. Knowing that each visit is temporary, makes it even more surreal.

It is like running a marathon. When the plane lands, the imaginary countdown begins; two weeks or 20,160 minutes to go. I had 20,160 minutes to give my grandmother her copy of my book, as it is dedicated to her. 20,160 minutes to wash and sell my car and arrange a loan for a new one I had already bought. 20,160 minutes to see family and friends, attend my nephew’s christening, sign tax forms and logbooks and if there is any time left, to relax.

I thought I was ready for this race. I got on the plane in Vancouver, giddy at the idea of being in Dublin again. I checked in and found the perfect seat by the gate. The plane was delayed, but that wasn’t going to dampen my spirits. My ticket said 50 E, a seat right at the back of the plane. Right by the kitchen and toilet (washroom). I don’t like the sound or smell of that. I thought to myself. It is ok. I’m going home on vacation after all. Nine hours later, I am cold and cranky. I couldn’t sleep with all the bustle going on around me and I seriously questioned the diets of some of the other passengers as the smells wafting from the toilet were truly horrific.

After landing (with 20,150 minutes on the clock), I texted cousin Dean who had agreed to pick me up. As I waited, I bought my first cup of tea and a packet of Tayto cheese and onion crisps. I looked at the proof copy of Just One More Drive I had brought home for Nana O’Brien (I only have two and her’s is pristine, not tatty like mine in this picture). It was such a relief. I had promised her that I would have the book finished and published before coming home. I dedicated it to her for all the support she had given me over the years. I feared she might pass away before seeing it in print.

At 20,135 minutes, Dean arrived with Zara and Donnie. We hugged and laughed at the fact that Zara had actually driven, not Dean, but I appreciated the fact they had come to collect me. They got to see the book and were impressed. I felt a little embarrassed and thanked them for being part of the story. Zara asked me if I wanted to see the Mini. The Mini is another reason I had flown home. I had bought Zara’s old Mini Cooper S, a late R53 model the month before. Well, technically, Mum had. I hadn’t seen the car in years but I had been with Zara when she had bought it. I did want to see it and she confessed
(nervously) to just having it cleaned. She knows me too well.

Ten minutes later, I found myself holding a key to my new car.  The car was very clean and very red. I mused at the fact that nearly twenty years ago, I was in another Mini, a classic version. This one was far bigger, faster and better built and yet, I was slightly disappointed. I was expecting it to look exactly as it had in 2009, which is totally unfair. It looked really good to the untrained eye. But I had written my dissertation on this car and am intimately familiar with it’s design and specification. I still go weak at the knees looking at the rear axle arms just visible below the bumper. All BMW Minis have multi-link rear suspension. Very expensive and very advanced. Anyway, I am incredibly fussy when it comes to the little details. The first thing I noticed was a slightly crooked “Cooper S” badge on the car’s hatchback. Zara mentioned the car had been in an accident. I walked around to the front of the car. Something was off. The front grill wasn’t right either. The standard Cooper S grill is colour coded. I can fix that with a John Cooper Works grill. The most frustrating thing was I couldn’t drive it as I hadn’t arranged the tax or insurance yet.  Everything will be ok. I trust Zara and know the car was well looked after.

I arrive home (20,000 minutes left on this trip), and am greeted by my mother and meet my nephew for the first time. We can’t stay, as there are guests in the house this weekend. I don’t mind as I need to get my VW Polo down to Wexford to clean it and get it ready for sale. After showering, and drinking another cup of tea, I am off. At 19,880 minutes, I am in the hangar sitting in the Polo. It is late and I am starting to feel the jet lag. The next morning (19,280 minutes) I am washing the car and feel panic in my chest. I don’t want to sell my car. I thought I was ok with this. Apparently not. I go for breakfast with my parents and begin to get emotional. I run to the toilet and say I am just feeling a little sick, rather than have them see me get teary over the car.

Two days later (16,400 minutes) I drive away from Nana O’Brien’s house on my way to my local credit union. I am disappointed again. Nana read the book and didn’t like the ending. Ouch, How can she not like the ending? I think it is fantastic. Granted, she isn’t the book’s target audience, and the second half of the story does get a little racy (think three shades of gay). I take a few breaths. Everything will be ok. I get to the credit union and walk in applying my best poker face. I have no idea what I have in my account and I am going to now ask for a car loan. I get to the counter to be greeted by a hot young ginger man. Of course, he is bloody ginger. Gingers are hot. “Hi, I’d like to apply for a car loan please.” I say. We talk for a few minutes. I jot down the details, trying to ignore the butterflies’ I am feeling in my tummy. Information acquired. Hot ginger attendant appreciated. Time to go.

The next day (14,960 minutes left), I return with the paperwork. A middle-aged woman deals with me. Where is my ginger eye candy? The forms are not enough, they need more. I have more documents in the hangar. I have to drive back down to Wexford! I get to kill two birds with one stone as I also need to shoot a video of the Polo to help sell it. I return to the credit union the following day (13,520 minutes left) and I hand over the additional paperwork. They are still not happy. Dad now needs to go guarantor on the loan. Are you kidding me! It will also take another day to get fully processed. Meanwhile, I try to get the Mini’s logbook signed, and fail as Zara is on holiday in Spain. Everything will be ok.

Another day goes by and I have 12,080 minutes left in Dublin. I try post my car video online but there is some issue and it won’t upload. I sigh and put the link in the description portion of the add. Stupid car site. I visit Nana quickly on my way to the gym. She tells me that my highly educated and literary critical aunt has read the book and is impressed with the writing. Hey! that is high praise indeed, and I have a great editor. She doesn’t bring up the ending. I receive a phone call telling me the loan has been approved. Finally! The Mini is MINE! I drive towards Rathgar to collect my father, as I need him there to sign my loan. I’m too frustrated at this point to care how that looks to other people. I feel slightly pathetic, but I want the Mini. I smile as I think to myself; Imagine if I crashed the car just as I go to sell it. I turn around a corner, onto a narrow road. Deciding to be gracious, I let the car on the opposite side of the road through. I pull out once it passes me and CRUNCH. A sickening sound of metal on metal. I’ve just hit another car. Fu*k My LifeBreathe. Everything will be ok.

It is not ok, I’m far from ok. I turn off the engine, unbuckle my seatbelt and wilt on the chair. I am not even angry at this latest turn of events. What would be the point? I sit there for a few seconds, trying to remind myself that I am on holiday. This has been the most frustrating trip home I have ever had. I’ve bought one car on borrowed funds and can’t drive it. Now, I have just crashed the car I need to sell. The video I took the time to make didn’t upload. I know I need to sell this car and part of me doesn’t want to see it go. And it is not just the cars. My book is finished but still not launched. Will it sell enough to cover all the money I have spent on it so far? People tell me I’m a success, yet my bank account tells a very different story. I have no idea what I am doing in either Ireland or Vancouver. I’m turning forty and feel like a teenager….

There is a knock on the window. It is the owner of the other car, hovering over me taking a mug shot. Just like Donna Noble, I say to myself; I’m tired. I’m so tired.

What is going to happen next? Find out next week.