Home page

"Come back in Kilkenny"

Steli kept insisting that I should "come back in Kilkenny," during the year that I lived in Cork.

I found it annoying, and cloying, but I accepted that he meant well, that he was only expressing friendship in his own way.

When I lost my job in the summer of 2010 — when the Natural Foods Bakery closed — Steli got what he wanted. He and a couple of my other friends encouraged me to believe that my best chances of being okay would be in Kilkenny. After a couple of months of running out of money, not wanting to leave Cork, I returned to Kilkenny to live with a mutual friend.

Late one evening Steli and M_ and I were talking and somebody came up with the idea that we move into a house together. They both saw the benefit of pooling resources and trying to find a decent place in what at that time was a renter's market. I knew of no alternative.

The arguments began. I wanted to have an opinion, even though I didn't have any money. I was awaiting a decision by the social welfare office about a repeat claim that was being held up by a question of habitual residence.

Steli and I had viewed a house. We'd both liked the open-plan kitchen, but had agreed that the bedrooms were pretty small. During the next evening of the three of us drinking together, Steli decided that this was the house that he wanted. I disagreed. The objections that I raised and the feelings of resentment they caused were the seed of a hatred that returned and grew for the next several months. Steli treated me like I was being ungrateful, M_ backed him up, and Steli took this as support for a case that he built against me in his own head.

When that house went off the rental market, of course, it was my fault that we had lost it, and of course it became the memory of happy times that could have been.

We found another house, and moved into it in September.

I felt like a prisoner there. Three out of four times that we had any drink together, Steli went on the verbal attack, an attack that progressed to the point he was putting his hands on me in anger. Once I kicked at him, and before left I took a swing at his head. Without the drink, he was more cordial, but it was clear to me that Steli was going to dominate the household. The kitchen was his. The living room was his — or at least the couch, the soul of the room.

I was miserable there, the prisoner of Riverside Drive.

And the drunken filthy cursing dismissals progressed. Since we have mutual friends, and since I'm hesitant to be treated like a guest in my own home, it was difficult to entirely avoid drinking together with him.

I had started looking for my own place to live a couple of weeks after we moved in together. In early October I began talking with the owner of a place where I would eventually be able to live by myself. I got the keys just before Christmas.

I left in a hurry late the next evening, two days before the holiday.