Scouting Scotland: One Year Later

My mind tends to move slowly when my body is moving fast.

One year ago today, I was settling into a palace fit for Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. As I traveled to a country with my roots to learn about writing, it blew my mind to think that I was doing what I love.

While my mom drove me the long distance to the Cincinnati Airport (a whopping 10 minutes), It was almost too good to be true to be traveling just for my pleasure. The entire time I kept a mission in mind to ease the shame of traveling for fun. I wanted to be a light to the dark city I would settle in genuinely, but I also said that to make the trip more justifiable to the people I was leaving in Kentucky.

Now I know it was for my pleasure because I have a Father that adores me.

I grew up in the Greater Cincinnati area watching planes zoom through sky. We lived so close to the airport. As the ascended up and up above my head, I could see the airline written on the side of the plane.

In a scholarship essay* for the trip I wrote,

I strive to be struck with wonder. When I was a child I loved laying in the grass, feeling the soft earth, and gazing up at the clouds moving across the atmosphere. To my childlike heart, the big puffs of white floating in the vast blue gave me daydreams of the day that I would be in the sky. As I watched the billows move, an airplane would occasionally zoom through, leaving a trail of white cloud behind. Where was the plane going? One day I would set off on a grand adventure and someone would look up at the sky wondering where my plane was going.

 

On my Aer Lingus flight to Dublin to connect to a flight to Edinburgh I watched a documentary called Older Than Ireland. It moved my young heart so much it motivated one of my first posts on my solo adventure abroad (click here to read Scouting Scotland: Wisdom and Wrinkles). In the post, I wrote about the lesson’s I was learning in transit while watching this sweet documentary. The second lesson I learned is this:

  1. They still have child-like hearts.

One woman held a pair of old and tattered shoes. They were very small. She told the story tucked in their laces. Her father so badly wanted to buy them for her. He worked extra hard, saving money and finally bought them. As he was bringing them home he was hit by a carriage and killed instantly. When they saw his dormant body, he was holding the shoes.

As she told the story, her eyes showed the pain. A few times she bowed her head in silence, ruminating over the holes in her heart the fatherless life created. She still felt like that little girl, joyous over shoes, but shattered to the bone about her father’s death. Her body is old, but her heart still tender, like a child’s, still vulnerable to pain after many years.

 

After a year of letting these sweet memories of Scotland, Ireland, England, and France marinate in mind, they have become richer in meaning and learning to me. I was so deeply moved on the plane by this woman older than Ireland because I saw myself in her.

When I was a child someone looked at a pair of new boots I had been given for Christmas and said your spoiled. Those two words poured lemon juice on a gracious gift. The nourishment of the treasured gift turned sour like spoiled milk.

A few simple words perverted a joyful pleasure into a shameful pain.

But, I am a year older now. There is still much more I will learn as the years add on to my life, but with more distance in the memories of my travels, I can see more clearly. Scouting Scotland was a lesson in why my Father died: so that I may have new shoes laced with joy, not shame.

 

 

 

Here are some lovely pictures from my grand adventure:

 

The clouds in my essay…

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A Food Montage

 

A People Montage

 

A Place Montage

The Story…

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I studied abroad.
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This was my home for three weeks.
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I took lots of pictures, even in urine-smelling phone booths.
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I climbed on at least three different castles.
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I wrote about my travels.
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And saw blooms in dark streets.
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I went to Ireland, which could be very much mistaken for Appalachia if it wasn’t for Rua the dog in this picture.
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I broke a tree hugging world record.
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I didn’t starve.
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I went back to Scotland and watched slam poetry about ladders.
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I visited the writer of Peter Pan, J.M Barrie’s house. It is now a Bed and Breakfast run by this man smoking in his red clothes and green crocs.
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I went to Glasgow and was moved by this statue at the Kelvingrove Museum.
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I also saw the king without his number one fan: Aunt Zue
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The ceiling was pretty too.
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I traveled a lot of miles by train
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and by foot.
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I was in Paris at a historical moment. The swelling Seine river flooded the Louvre and Giverny’s Gardens.
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Then, I stumbled upon the lock bridge while I was lost.
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After all the travel woe’s in Paris I was back in Dalkeith doing my house chores with Henry the Hoover.
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I said good by to the Duke
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and traveled back to Kentucky wearing all the clothes I couldn’t fit in my backpack.
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I loved it so much my room key ended up in my souvenir bag. I mailed it back.

And here boots that are now sweet again after that grand adventure.

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*This excerpt from my scholarship is word for word what I submitted. It was written in the winter of 2015.