Both Sides Now: Departing Scotland
My time abroad is coming to an end, and I am writing to you from Gate F65 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The sun is setting and is painting the sky a brilliant, almost boastful array of oranges and blues. It feels like a long time since I have seen a sky as clear as this.
I recall the early morning light and soft blue sky outside of the flight gates at LAX, when I was quick jotting down my first blog post and on the verge of launching this whole website. The nervousness and excitement that flitted through quickly typing fingers, with my mom and brother a few feet away. It seems like just yesterday I bid adieu to the only home I ever knew.
I am back to writing in airports on the edge of new chapters in life—perhaps it will be my last time for a long time. I’ve seen life from both sides, and I don’t know what quite to make of it all
I return home with an intimate understanding of the joy of solitude. I know that patience is an essential building block for homemaking. Living in Scotland has shown me that a fresh cup of tea doesn’t fix everything but does make it a little better. Sometimes it’s that little bit that you need.
My tiny, ordinary, suburban home in Colton will always be my first home. Edinburgh will be my second. It is painful to depart any home even if it was one that you could only love for a fraction of time. While I will always try to get my words right, there are certain sensations I will never describe perfectly by myself. The act of writing comes hand-in-hand with the love affair of reading, and there was something I read a while ago that stuck with me. Jomny Sun tweeted the following:This is how I feel. Both sides of the world are equally home to me, and that saying goodbye to one is ripping myself away from there. I am floating there in the middle.
While it hurts, I feel so much gratitude. My final week spent brought me to every corner of this tiny, vast city. I climbed Arthur’s Seat. At 815 feet, I decided that where the clouds touched the hilltops is the closest I will get to heaven in this lifetime. I prayed in the fractured light of St. Gile’s Cathedral. I walked down the Royal Mile to the edge of Edinburgh’s Castle — this fortress of war, of protection, this symbol of medieval spirit, this relic of old worlds. My eyes and feet traveled through the winding colour of Victoria Street, and I wept and laughed with my Lady Agnew for one final time at the National Gallery. I climbed to the rooftop of the National Museum and saw the cityscape’s silhouette; I could fill in all the details and shadows in with memories and history. I went to Leith. I stood at the foot of a lighthouse. I wondered what wandering light led me to these shores. I wished I could thank Edinburgh. I wish it knew.
It was cloudy that final day. I am eight hours away from landing in California. I will return to the land of infinite sunshine with a newfound appreciation for clear skies. It finally snowed the day after I left Edinburgh. Through photographs, I saw these last streets I had recently walked upon in a completely different light and colour. There is something poetic about this coincidental act of nature. While I am a sucker for the marriage of weather and poetry, but this hurt. I dream of what my stony streets look like beneath blankets of snow. But I will interpret this final heartbreak as Edina’s call to me -- asking me to return, asking me to come see something new.
I wrote this over a long period of time. I started it in the Toronto Airport, next to a Tim Horton's I wrote it throughout my flight, throughout my first few days and weeks in California. I finished editing it early March (?) -- so the timeline is a bit frazzled. But despite being several months late, everything resonates the same way.