Three and a half years in this flat. The longest I’ve lived at any one place since leaving home at eighteen. I’ve grown used to the way the rickety sash windows rattle in the faintest of wind and the ashy smell of the neighbour’s fireplace as it travels through these old vents.
Ten years on this Great island. Long enough to become British. Not just in nationality or legal status, but in thought, speech, spirit, even in physicality, in the way I move through the world, my reflexes. Like I was given some strange nylon to wear upon arrival and it’s been on me so long it just feels like my skin. What was once so unfamiliar now lives in my cells.
There’s so much to say about belonging to two places. About loving people on two different sides of an ocean. A blessing. A curse. A privilege. A bipartite state of being. No words convey the duality of this evolution. Where the person I was back then over there and the person I am now here are somehow exactly the same and yet entirely different.
This place is in me now. Of me. I am it and it is me. It can never leave me. It can never cast me off. Nor can I shed it. No matter where I go or how far I am from it, it’s the nylon I can never take off. Never want to take off. It goes with me. There is no distance. Where I am it is.