I have been back in Dublin for about a month – apart from a Christmas jaunt to the UK to visit family. I am just about getting settled into feeling like I’m back living here, rather than just on an extended visit.
We now have an apartment – and internet! – and phone numbers and supermarket loyalty cards. A chunk of boxes with our clothes, kitchen basics and miscellaneous bits of junk arrived – including the jewellery screwdriver set, a promotional beer cozy and some glowsticks. All the important things. We’ve done a trip to IKEA to fill in the furniture gaps and overstock on candles. I even have a job, which I’m partly writing so that I remember not to stay up playing video games all night.
This motley assortment of things did not inherently make this home. I’m struggling a little to articulate exactly what it is. I won’t lie when I say that seeing the above sign at Dublin airport made me tear up a little. Even though I didn’t move to Dublin until I was an adult, this city is my home. It is where I have had some of the best times of my life, and met some of the best people. That’s not quite it either though – I could say the same for Seattle, after all. Sometimes there’s something about a place that makes it your place. And whatever it is, I can feel it in my bones as I walk around the streets of the fair city.
Perhaps inevitably, I am reminded of Sam Vimes’ thin boots letting him read the cobblestones of the city, and the right kind of rock to grow a witch. Sadly I wear thick-soled boots, and was not grown on this land. Yet something in it still pulls me.
I’m not sentimental enough to think that this is an easy move. Sure, it seems like we’ve done most of the hard stuff. But although Dublin has been my home for years, Ireland hasn’t been. Being British, and a woman of childbearing age in Ireland sometimes leaves you feeling… isolated. I think if I’d known how difficult it could be when I *first* moved here, I might not have come. This is not a place that always loves me back, or makes me feel welcome. There’s a lot to unpack there, but that’s for another time.
I cannot resist closing with Pratchett’s thoughts on coming back:
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.
I’ve come back. Better than I went.