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  • Writer's pictureDorina

Music to My Ears: The Best Sounds to Wake To - Episode 1: Bells

When my friend Ang and I moved to Ireland in 2008, apartments were hard to come by. We found ourselves in a neighbourhood that was a 45 minute walk to the centre of town, living with two Northern Irish gents named Colm and Decky. Colm and Decky were there first and they’d had a roommate leave, opening up space to over take the lease. So with few options and being friends long enough we were willing to share a (double, ugh) bed, Ang and I signed on.

To paint you a picture of our roommates…one night, we all decided to watch a movie together and Decky fell asleep on the couch. At the end of the movie we told him to go to bed. In a half dazed, half drunk, half sleep walking state, he got up, and opened our front door, and went outside, peeing on our neighbor’s front step. See, our apartment had a half bath on the main floor right off the front door, and Decky had thought he was in the bathroom. So when Ang was in London and I was home alone with Decky and he came into my room in the middle of the night with that same sleep walking look, I knew he thought he was in the bathroom (which was on the other side) and he was making a move for my closet. MY CLOTHES! “Wrong room Decky!”, and he slowly turns and leaves.

Colm and Decky worked together for a company that refurbished bars. But in 2008 Ireland was in the midst of a rather difficult recession. Finding themselves without work, Colm and Decky were left with only one option: move back to Northern Ireland. Now, according to the lease, they were supposed to find their own replacements if they left before terms end. Instead, they were out like ghosts and Ang and I were posting ads online trying to find a roommate. The problem is that within those 3 months, the rental market had flooded and we were finding no one. We had only two showings, stress was mounting and time was running low.

I never did meet our land lady, Ang, having a much more flexible work schedule than I did, had always been the one to chat with her. Better that way – Ang is much more charming than I am. So we sent Ang and her charm off to talk to our land lady, who, due to the double bed situation, always called me Ang’s girlfriend (and that’s how I ended up being Ang’s secret lesbian lover in the summer of 2008). Hey, you know, if it wins us favours and gets us a sympathetic “Aww, I can’t let this foreign couple go homeless” vote, I’m in.

Because we were in a position placed upon us by our roommates, because we had done due diligence, because she knew we only had 2 months left before leaving Ireland and because she knew she’d have no trouble renting the 3 bedroom unit as it’s own entity, our land lady gave us an option. It was in Downtown Cork and it was going to be the same rent per month.

We went to view the apartment and our hearts sank. The apartment was roughly the size of a bed. It was dark, it was on the main floor with a couple of bars outside, so the night noise was going to be terrible. It only had room enough for a mini fridge and a hot plate and I was fairly sure if that I was going to fit in the bathroom I would have to leave the door open. It was far from paradise. We sat on the bed for a good hour, but both of us knew that we didn’t have another option. We left that apartment and I headed home while Ang went to work.

Shortly after I arrived home, Ang texted me – she had a message from our land lady saying she had a renter for that main floor unit (my heart dropped) but was willing to let us stay in the upper floor apartment (my heart calmed) and wouldn’t raise our rent while we were there. But she needed an answer right away and we figured even though we had to decide sight unseen, it couldn’t be much worse than the unit we saw.

With Ang at work, our friend Josh and I packed up all we had into his little VW Golf and headed to the new apartment. We climbed the stairs. I put the key in the lock and opened the door, holding my breath for what might unfold before my eyes. Josh next to me exclaims “This is so much better than we could have hoped for!” as if he too were moving in. It was cozy and bright, it was airy, it wasn’t on the main floor and it had character. We were looking at a dining/living room and a kitchen – with a stove, but there were stairs. I climbed those stairs and low and behold – WE HAD TWO BEDROOMS! Ang and I each had our own space and I went to bed that night grateful and content.

The next morning as I woke, I could hear the sounds of church bells floating through the window, ringing for Morning Mass at the Catholic Church a couple blocks away, and it was by far the best sound to wake up to.

This is the only photo that exists of our downtown apartment. I was arguing with mom not to take the photo and she was taking it anyway.

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