I find myself on the same stretch of the Ravenhill Road where I had a flat thirty-five years ago. Then, I chose not to notice the ragged flags that shawled every lamppost, flapping damply in the wind. I ignored the murals glorifying terrorism on gable ends. Today it is rather a shock to find the same flags–red, white and blue; orange and purple–flying still. There is fresh paint on the UVF mural on the corner opposite the wee shop selling filled sodas, bacon baps and sausage rolls. They have an Ulster Fry to go. Can’t wait, but must: I am in quarantine for two weeks.
From the kitchen window, I can see the twin cranes of Harland and Wolff. The room that will be my office boasts a view of Napoleon’s nose. These reassuring landmarks are visible from almost every part of the city, forcing me to confront why I looked for a place to live only in South and East Belfast, and never considered North and West. I am more of a tribalist than I choose to acknowledge, I realise now I’m ‘home.’