In a desperate pursuit of the fresh air and personal space not often afforded to travellers, I veer east and emerge from the sea of O’Connell Street tourists along the widening River Liffey. Rounding the back of a parliamentary stone giant, I find myself face to face with a boardwalk strikingly similar to one I’ve walked a million and two times back home. Massive grey seagulls sit perched on the edge of the concrete boardwalk, their feathers ruffled by the gusting salty breeze and bodies plumped from leftover takeaways. The usually chipped cobblestone smooths into an even stretch of cement which extends down, down, down until it is swallowed whole by the River Liffey and its freighters at the mouth of the sea. The only interruption to this slow process of digestion is a massive white bridge; all rounded edges and silver beams, it is a striking reminder of modernity against a backdrop of rusty barges which float only a stone’s throw behind.
Walls of glass extend upwards on either side of the river, showcasing the IT departments and clean-cut hipsters whom have remained so markedly absent throughout my time in Dublin. I’m reminded of hamster wheels, the hip little hamsters' exertion almost palpable as they tap tap tap on their flat keyboards and blink blink blink at their flat screens. The river itself is grey and calm, uniting the world of cargo ships and sailors to the world of production agencies and flow charts.
I’m overwhelmed by the similarity and more poignantly, the sense of home I feel amidst these juxtaposing landscapes. The rock beach Canadian in me expects an orca whale to break the surface of the River Liffey with a salty puff of exhalation. I remind myself that it is the sensations which we come to identify as home, rather than any particular destination.