Are you there St. Patrick? It’s me, Sarah

“Hope you’re not afraid of snakes!”

I’m in Orchard Park, my usual dog-walking haunt, and a man striding towards me has just stopped to announce there’s a snake about 12 feet from where I’m standing. I’m rooted to the pavement and suddenly very conscious of my bare ankles (spring has finally arrived, yay.)

“Don’t worry, it’s just a small one. Twelve inches max!” he adds, before continuing merrily on his way.

My life flashes before my eyes. I’m thinking about all those early morning and late night walks in the grass near our apartment where Milo likes to do his business. I’m also thinking, Why the hell didn’t anyone tell me there would be snakes in Oregon? You’d expect that kind of carry on in Arizona, but not here, in the damp, leafy Pacific Northwest. Although hang on, surely snakes, being reptiles, like damp conditions? And leaves are a great place to hide. Snakes are sneaky like that.

I strain my eyes to see if I can make out a snakey looking figure on the path ahead. There are yellow flower yokes strewn around willy nilly. I inch forward, dragging Milo for protection. And then I see it. A snake! A real life snake! Not in a zoo or a terrarium, in the wild.  I grab my phone, and keeping what I feel is a safe distance (about 11 feet) I try to snap a quick picture.

“Is that another snake?”

I’m sure the voice behind me is coming from a huge, person-sized snake but it’s just another man walking his dog.

“Are you telling me there are more?” I squeak.

“Oh yeah,” Man No.2 replies knowingly. “I just passed one up the street. Bigger than this one though. About 18 inches.”

Suddenly all I can think about is snakes. They’re everywhere. Every twig, every leaf, every movement is a throbbing mass of snakes. I never quite recovered after the boa constrictor ate the donkey in The Swiss Family Robinson. And Milo is no use. I just know if he saw a snake moving he’d grab it and try to play with it. I had been preparing myself for the inevitable day when he leads me to a dead body but this snake thing came out of nowhere. Is it on me? I FEEL LIKE IT’S ON ME.

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And so it starts…

First, a little background info. I’m Sarah, I live in Dublin with my boyfriend Eoin and I work on a magazine. About six weeks ago Eoin, who is an engineer at The Massive Multinational Company That Cannot Be Named, which produces something nerdy to do with computers, was offered a two and a half year assignment in America. We talked about it (a lot) and decided it was an amazing opportunity, one that he couldn’t turn down, and that I would go with him. To be honest, I did most of the talking. Like, who wouldn’t want to live stateside for a couple of years? The price of magazine subscriptions over there is enough to make me sprint to the airport.

The Massive Multinational Company That Cannot Be Named is a sound company and once we could prove that Eoin and I been living together for over a year, I was officially classed as his significant other  in their (probably bespectacled) eyes. As a SO, The Massive Multinational Company That Cannot Be Named will ship me off to America with him and organise a visa allowing me to stay there for the duration of his assignment. Like I said, sound.

The only problem is the visa (it’s called B1 or B2 or something) won’t allow me to work in the States; I’ll technically be a tourist, or a kept woman, as I like to put it. That’s the scary part. While this move is great for Eoin’s career, it means me giving up my job. A year ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of it but lately, well, it’s lost its lustre a bit and I’d been thinking of making a move for the past six months. So when you look at it, this America opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.

Obviously we have loads to do (starting with this week’s job, some paperwork) as the preliminary start date for the assignment is the beginning of October. That’s only about 12 weeks away. Oh look, I’ve just pissed my pants out of sheer terror.