Edinburgh, Scotland: Picnics & Perambulations

In the spirit of saving precious time and energy, the following paragraph is taken directly from my dear friend Kara Simpson’s notes:

“One week into our trip, Kara and I (me) spent the morning in the Smart City hostel cafe, writing postcards, checking our email, having tea and playing pool. It was very very nice and relaxing. Once 2 o’clock arrived we went and checked into our new hostel (right next door to the Smart City Hostel), the High Street Hostel. It was a little bit of a downgrade, but for the price, could not be beat.

After a little rest, I (Kara S) headed to the airport to pick up Bill and Katie. They arrived without problems and after getting settled into the hostel we headed out for dinner. We were recommended a pub that had a backpackers menu called Castle Arms. Bill got Haggy, Tatties, and Nips (basically Shepherds Pie with haggis, turnips and potatoes) and I (Kara S) got the Yorkshire Pudding (sausage and potato in this pastry type bowl). Yum Yum. To fully embody the Scottish way, Bill ordered a whiskey. I must say, I don’t think I will ever come around to the stuff. It’s an explosion of burning alcohol in my mouth, and I don’t find that so pleasant. Strongbow suits me just fine! For dessert we ordered cranachan – an oats, cream and raspberry parfait thing. I think I prefer chocolate in my dessert.

That was much easier for me to copy and paste than to write altogether again. Plus, I’m being extra lazy today. I slept most of the drive up to our hostel, Loch Ness Hostel (http://www.lochness-backpackers.com). We are currently situated in the village of Lewiston near Drumnadrochit, and just a few minutes walk from Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. But the weather is terribly dreary today, which is appropriate, I suppose – sort of how I anticipated the Loch Ness area to be.

Yesterday we met up with a friend of Katie’s and her two children, had lunch in the Edinburgh gardens,  and checked out the Edinburgh National Gallery, where we saw a couple of beautiful Rembrandt’s, and a Rubens. Afterwards, I was also able to find REAL soft serve ice cream (!!!) which made up for the crazy fake stuff I’d been falling for repeatedly and being disappointed by. After saying adieu to Jackie (Katie’s friend), everyone returned to the hostel, while I walked around the many tourist gift shops and purchased some random pieces of Scottishness, and a couple gifts. Money is deteriorating fast here, however, what with the pound being worth so much, and our dollar being worth so little. Sad face. 😦

For dinner, we went out to Biddy Malone’s, which was the same Irish pub that Kara and I had been stalked at only two nights earlier by some drunk Irish guy. This time, however, was much more enjoyable for we had dinner at a discounted backpacker’s rate, and were able to finally try Sticky Toffee Pudding.

My favorite part of the evening was after dinner when the band started setting up. While they got ready, a group of Irish step dancers performed a couple songs, and there was a great feeling to the pub. In fact, the pub was having a St. Patrick’s Day Party since it was 6 months til the actual day. So we hung around, and enjoyed the dancing adn the music. I was totally infatuated with the band, for they were so authentic and fun, and the Irish music was terrific. Makes me excited to hear all the live music in the pubs Kara and I will go to in Ireland. 🙂

Enough of this updating crap. I’m going to enjoy the fireside and the Scottish air. 🙂

Home: Sturbridge, Massachusetts

I can hardly believe that I’m in my own bed.

I drove over 600 miles yesterday. Arrived home at 2:45 AM. Mom waited up for me. I stumbled upstairs, took a shower, and crashed. Now I wake up, and here I am – in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, in my own bed for the first time in over three months.

I realized driving into town that I have never been away this long. I have NEVER been out of Worcester County for more than a couple weeks at a time. Lots of kids have the experience of being gone that long when they go off to college, but I commuted for six years. Just another reason why this trip was invaluable to me.

Everything has changed. I was a little scared of coming home, of driving these streets again. And it might be hard at first. But then I realized that it doesn’t need to be that way.

One thing I’ve realized because of this trip is the awesome power we have- the ability to make changes, to impress ourselves upon the world and make things happen. Yes, perhaps Fate may catch up with me every now and then, but I have the capability of making choices, changes, and inserting myself into the world around me.

That’s a powerful realization, when one thinks about the far-reaching effects such a Truth could hold.

Talked to Jessica Robinson for over TWO hours last night, while driving home. Gosh, I love that girl. I can’t wait to see her again. I got sentimental with her, as I tend to do, but I can’t help myself – I want her to understand how amazing she is, and how grateful I am for her. We don’t always get to see each other as often as I would like, but I’ve learned to accept that, because when we do, I’m so happy. I feel happy in her presence. She mentioned how she was a little afraid that this trip would change me, and although that would be okay, she didn’t want to lose me – she was afraid of the distance it might put between us. It was beautiful to know that, yes, perhaps I have changed, but the truth of the matter is that Jessica has always seen me – the real ME, and loved and accepted the real me – so if anything, this trip has only brought us closer.

I have the vague feeling the previous paragraph is filled with run-ons and is perhaps haphazardly written, but I am going to accept that. It’s 11:30 AM and I’m still exhausted, but I know I need to get up and face the day. I have a car FILLED to the brim with my trip, and I need to clean her out, process some things, and prepare for the next step in the journey of this life.

So don’t BEGIN to think that this is the end of my blog.

This is only the beginning… of the rest of my life. 🙂 As they say.

Newfoundland, PA

I got into town around 5:30 yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Newfoundland, PA welcomed me with open arms, and breathtaking shades of light and shadow that reminded me why I had left everything behind in the first place.

The drive had been easy (only about 3 hours) and I felt… nauseous the entire time. It was a mixture of first-date butterflies and life-altering seasickness. I had left. I had actually packed my car, got behind the driver’s seat, and drove away. The “dizziness of freedom” that Kierkegaard often mentions had it’s grip on me good, and I was indeed dizzy. Dizzy with freedom, dizzy from lack of food, with possibility, and with all the other things that dizziness and freedom imply.

When I pulled into the driveway, with it’s weeping willow standing sentry and sunflower seeds tucked deep beneath the soil, preparing to breathe, I shut off the ignition and sat. There was no movement from the house, and I was surprised when a green car pulled into the drive and settled in the garage. Jeanmarie.

I really didn’t know what to expect; how can one make expectations of such things? All I could rely on were my instincts, which had failed me many times in the past and had been started to be put into question. But there she was, with her red curls and smiling face. Just like in her pictures – perhaps a bit slighter. I was surprised by her apparent resemblance to a daisy that could be carried away by a breeze, and yet assured by her eyes that she was firmly settled into the ground. No one was wisping her away.

I felt instantly comfortable in her and Brian’s house. It was small, but the floor plan was open and the walls were palpably brimming with human emotion.

I would expect no less from Jeanmarie.

Which I soon discovered to be her writer name, and I was caught between calling her that and calling her Happy, which I personally found to be a name rife with unfulfilled expectations… especially for one has complicated and authentic as she.

I met Caitlin, her beautiful baby with ethereal blue eyes and curly wisps of hair (who is quite obviously going to be as stunningly lovely as her mother). For the next 30 hours she proceeded to cry and coo and giggle and scream and eat and fuss and poop… and, overall, be ridiculously adorable. I will definitely be leaving a piece of my heart with her… that, and a moo woobie.

Yes, a moo woobie. 😛

To Fill the Empty Spaces

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
-Kahlil Gibran

Rock on to my second blog post.

I’ve noticed that people have interpreted various different meanings from their reading of my first post, “Wanderlust”. Some saw and appreciated the journey ahead of me, continuing to support me; some people appreciated and commented on my writing skills (i love you), while others cracked up at and appreciated the humorous bits.

Yet then there was that small percentage of individuals who noticed the maple syrup between the bark. They noticed… the sadness? The desperation, perhaps. They noticed that this was my attempt at ascending from somewhere, and searching again for the sunshine. They noticed the facetious (and yet somehow not) lines considering suicide and it’s potential merits. Those who might have known me in the past noticed a difference, or perhaps a noticeable fading, of my usual optimism and incorrigible twinkle.

By no means do I believe that the twinkle is gone… merely that… perhaps it has been carved out.

There’s a difference between giving up and growing up – at some essential level I know this. However, when Time consistently presents itself as merely being a catalyst for pain and devastation, giving up seems an undeniable part of growing. I have found myself wanting to “give up” again and again these past few years, especially these past few months. Repeatedly I become overwhelmed by the vast expanse of Future, beginning to see it as monstrous evil TIME forging towards me, bringing wave after wave of undulating pain (enter fierce dinosaur-like creature, “Arrrgh”, then pausing to casually check his pocket watch).

Perhaps if I only pictured it that way, I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed. Just slightly befuddled.

Befuddled I can work with.

The empty spaces inside me have developed slowly; slowly, I will nourish these spaces and fill them once more.