My first night in Scotland, I looked out at the Edinburgh Castle and felt suddenly, inexplicably, at home.
“Okay, so I’m moving here,” I told my sleepy little brother.
He threw a pillow at my face and told me to go to sleep.
That was ten years ago.
Nearly everyone I meet has one particular place they’d love to see. Perhaps you’d love to explore Venetian streets, or hike your way through the Rockies. Maybe Jordan’s vast, golden-red landscape fascinates you, or when you close your eyes, you see yourself purchasing spices from floating markets in Thailand. These imaginings capture people – hold them – and carry them through mundane, monotonous times.
Like me, you may attempt to create these experiences through books. From exploration novels in the far reaches of the world to simple tales set close to home in Chicago, I’ve been traveling in my mind for months. Finally though, after religiously squirreling away money, I’m officially off on another adventure.
Where to, you ask?
Most people assume I’ve picked France as my adopted home – that it’s the one particular place I always envision. After all, I’ve lived there twice, and the country continues to captivate me. France, to me, is a place I will always return to. A place that holds my heart, my memories. Scotland, however, has been luring me back since my first fateful visit ten years ago.
My particular fascination with the both Scottish highlands and ancient city of Edinburgh makes little sense, like describing the sensation of sitting at the edge of a rainy cloud cover, leaving you both wet and dry. It’s describing the nearly indescribable.
I simply feel an overwhelming sense of belonging there – an understanding beyond the reach of words or reason. Parisian cobblestone streets and Moroccan souks may fascinate me, but when I close my eyes and picture myself somewhere, still, after ten years, I find myself in Scotland; misty Scottish lochs create the undercurrent of my thoughts, and the surrounding rugged landscape paints the backdrop of my imaginings.
And then there’s Edinburgh, a city vibrant with palpable life and and character, the city that will be my home base. Originally, I had decided to move to Scotland on an extended tourist visa, with dreams of Thailand and New Zealand to follow. Then, (surprise!) I received a congratulatory email accepting me into a writing program in London. Grad school here I come! Given myriad visa laws and the pricey two-year program, I decided to drastically shorten my Scottish trip. But at least for a short while, I will call Scotland home, and escape Wisconsin in the dead of February.
As a true book-lover, I will, of course, explore the cafe and hotel where J.K. Rowling wrote much of Harry Potter, as well as the countryside featured in Outlander, so stay tuned for those adventures!
But I also want to simply sit. Observe. Slowly move my way through the country, seeing what I don’t expect to see, and discovering the undiscoverable, all of which I’ll share on my blog, as well as the more practical components of setting oneself up for both long-term and short-term stays.
In the past, I’ve always traveled abroad on my own, and am a strong proponent of solo female travel. However, I’ve decided to shake things up a bit this time, and will travel with one of my best friends Caitlin! To quickly summarize our five-year-long friendship, we were introduced to each other as “the same person” my freshman year of college. Within the first few hours of meeting, we had already discussed our mutual love of Edinburgh, and an inexplicable need to live there, if only for a short while. One week later, we decided that one day, we’d share an apartment in our favorite city. (I have an old Word doc. planning it all out to prove it).
It’s also worth noting that Caitlin edits nearly everything I write and is generally pretty fantastic.
So, in just one week, I will be traveling to Scotland! I’ll meet Caitlin in Edinburgh and then begin exploring both a city and country that have taken ahold of my mind – ten years after I promised myself, and five years after I promised my best friend.
To get you in the Scottish mood, here’s one of my favorite songs – it just so happens to be the one I was listening to when I bought my ticket. Because they’re Scottish. And amazing. Enjoy! Scottish updates soon to come!
When you close your eyes, and you picture yourself somewhere, what do you see? Spanish beaches? Korean villages? Scotland?
Thank you to JCR for all of the lovely Scotland photos from our trip 10 years ago!