Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Chapter

You're probably asking yourself what the heck happened to my banner. Well folks, I am saddened to report that "Flippin' Yank in Norn Iron" is extinct. In its place is the birth of a new Flippin' Yank and HopAlong adventure...San Fran ♥ Belfast!

As you may have gathered from the last post, Belfast and I have officially broken up. We're just not right for each other. To continue our relationship would be a big fat lie just like Jon and Kate Plus 8. So here I am back in San Francisco for good. HopAlong and I have decided that it would be best for us to marry and plant our roots in California. We've had a year to weigh out the pros and cons. And judging from the whiny posts the last few months, my list of cons keep growing longer and longer. I tried people. I really did. But why continue to wear a pair of shoes that don't fit and make you very uncomfortable? And let's face it, Belfast just really isn't my style.

I like the energy of sprawling urban cities, multiculturalism, diverse neighborhoods, ethnic foods, limitless activities and cultural events. I like it when the sun shines more than 14 days a year. Most of all, I want to be able to walk outside my door and feel like I can be myself and not feel inhibited. Belfast fails to offer me these things. When I mentioned this to HopAlong he said, "It took you a year to figure this out?". What he really wanted to say was, "I told you so." Belfast does have some redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, those quailities weren't enough to keep me there and it's not a place where I see HopAlong and I for the long haul. No doubt HopAlong is ecstatic about this decision because he LOVES, LOVES, LOVES, LOVES San Francisco. I don't blame him. :)

Do I have regrets? A big resounding NO! How many people come to Belfast can say, "I live just a block away from the infamous Peace Line?" That in itself is pretty amazing. I am reminded of this everyday when I see tourists frantically snapping photos of the murals in awe and riding up and down the Shankill with gaping mouths wide open. I have seen an intimate side of life here that most would not have the opportunity to witness, which is definitely not something you can experience on an open-top tour bus or as a student on the insular grounds of Elm's Village. My experience here was one-of-a-kind. Living in West Belfast (as a Catholic in a hardcore Loyalist area no less) was frustrating and sometimes made me bitter. Yes, the streets there still seethe with sectarianism. Sectarianism is alive and well. Nevertheless, I have met and have gotten to know the most kindhearted, generous, warm, and hospitable people I have ever known. Very honest, down-to-earth, witty and a sense of humor that makes your belly ache from laughter. This is what I LOVED most about Belfast! The people. (Well most of them anyway.) I am especially forever grateful for HopAlong's family for taking me in and welcoming me with open arms as one of their own. My heart is heavy knowing that I will no longer hear Big Eva refer to me as her "wee girl."

So what's in store for the new chapter? Repatriation, the complexity of our transatlantic long distance relationship which no doubt will be a true test of resilience, HopAlong pining away for me and crying his eyes out because he's still stuck in Belfast, the dreaded fiance visa process, eventual wedding plans, and much more!

Stay tuned, put on your seat belts and brace yourselves because we're in for a bumpy ride...


Joanne said...

Best of luck guys! Welcome home!

Anonymous said...

Awww! That's too bad! I have been following your blog and have enjoyed reading about your expat experiences as I am one too.

I look forward to reading about your new adventure and good luck!

Unknown said...

I hope you're much happier in San Francisco, although I can't imagine that would be difficult.

I remember nipping out for a carton of milk when I lived in Belfast and seeing the tour buses parked at the end of my street photographing the murals at "freedom corner", let me tell you it was weird. I never got used to it.

Adam said...

Just found your blog. I spent a year and a half in San Francisco last year and came home for university commitments. So fed up with Belfast, might make the jump back to SF before long!

Flippin' Yank said...

Thanks for the good wishes guys and/or gals! We're going to need it! :)

SF misses you! Come back!

Mr Ulster said...

Looking forward to reading your new chapter, particularly when Hop Along (great nickname) gets his way over. (Why not get hitched in Ireland (not NI) to avoid the visa issue?)

I'm content in Norn Iron, but truly appreciate your perspective.

BBC asked me to write something up for Independence Day:

Best wishes!