Daughter of heaven Oh, daughter of now
Drifting away and don’t make a sound
We’ll cry when we hear that you ran from this town
She’s gone to a new place now
She’s gone to a new place now
–“Daughter of Heaven,” Kate Rusby
I went to my first favorite place today to journal: a ledge at the base of the ruins of the Castle, out of the way of tourists, overlooking the sea. This is what I wrote:
So many people from “before”—for there is a definite moment that separates my life before Scotland and my life in Scotland—have asked “How is Scotland?” It’s the same question that they would ask if I were on holiday, and so I find it hard to respond. I came here with the intention of living here. How I came to find myself here is a story so full of happenstance that I know I am here not by any ability of my own. The past few weeks, and still today, I have walked half in a daze, following with faith the steps laid before me. Even now that I am here with classes starting–finally–two days from now, I am not really sure what I’m doing here, but I’m going to do it anyway. I know that I am headed toward something and this is the way to it, whatever it may be.
In short, from the first glimpse of heaven’s fingers brushing the green earth, I knew I belonged here. The sight of the sea is intoxicating. It draws me toward its neverending horizon, pulling me to seek it out when I take a walk, even if my destination were elsewhere. (It isn’t hard, I live two minutes’ walk away from the sea.) The vast expanse of the sea inspires, how somewhere a Divine Will said “this far and no farther” and the seas obeyed. Even as I watch it with wary eyes, I am assured by the water mark that the waves will not rise up and wash the town away. I have grown used to the crying of gulls and of pipes on the wind, forming a backdrop to life here. The addition of RAF planes and the tolling of bells, the smell of clementines and of Fairy Detergent, only complete the sense of familiarity I have with this place.
I watch the fishermen on their boats and the couples skipping rocks and feel not the disinterested detachment that had plagued me for months. I am still an observer, perched on my ledge, leaning against the castle wall, but I feel more present. That’s what it all comes down to, a niche into which I actually fit.
Scotland is where I smell the freshness of the sea and the perfume of roses. It is where I taste the smoothness of tea that still warms my spirit. Where my old friend the wind still toys with my hair. There is a blend of familiarity and newness which has kept it from being a shock to my system and yet continues to drive my wanderer’s feet to the cobblestone streets for some exploring.
I’ve tried to gather my thoughts in a coherent fashion, but I’m not sure how much I’ve succeeded. I have seen so much, heard so much, felt so much, thought so much, that it is impossible to put it all down except for in the scattered recesses of my memory.
* * *
I hope this adds to the posts I have already written. I was out at the castle for an hour and I wonder in how many tourists’ pictures I have been. I must have looked very picturesque in my plaid brown skirt and striped brown cardigan, hair being blown about, the castle behind me, journaling. I felt quite Romantic. And that, perhaps, is my absolute favorite thing so far: the castle and the sea.