Once upon a time, a Louisiana-Seattle-New York woman attempted to go back in time but instead found herself heading toward the future. Turns out, learning how to drive a stick really is pretty useful.
Magnificent sunsets. Sunrise at 8:30am. Dizzying roundabouts. And maddeningly flip-flopped everything, from the side of the car to the side of the road to the side of the escalator and steps to my brain. Sun then rain then wind then clouds then sun then snow then the mildest temps on record, so they tell me. Stiff little pine trees dotting the hill outside my bedroom window. And seagulls. I have never loved them more as they swoop and sway through the sky, cawing and singing and strumming along, no matter the weather. It’s only a mile-long walk to the center of Inverness yet seemingly a little longer when trudging back to the house, uphill. But not much. Hey GooGoo: How does one lose weight and get in shape while eating whatever they want and whining about walking up a hill? My insulated leggings arrived. That’s a good thing. It’s the wind that drives me batty. “C’est le vent, Betty.”
It’s just the wind. But it messes up my hair and stings my face and pokes at my eardrums and forces me to lose my balance as it screeches through the pit of my stomach like that dream I once had. Of ghosts. And no one would shut the window. Or come to my rescue. It doesn’t matter. When one is not comfortable within one’s own skin, how can one expect to be comfortable on the outside? Ah, the seagulls again. And what was sunny is now a smoky grey, a hazy shade of winter. 1pm and I expect the sun to return just so it can gracefully descend around 3:30pm/15.30. These days are short, shorter than usual. How frightening. But they’re getting longer, I’m told. Inanna/Ishtar/Persephone is on her way up.
Through my tantrums and tears and defenses and sleepless nights in the Underworld, I remind myself to be kind, gentle.
— You were already exhausted back in Louisiana. And look what you’ve been through/put yourself through these last few months. You, attempting to travel back in time to something familiar, with all your things, and your friends, and your beautiful Nana. But you never made it. The Universe has other plans for you. Nana would tell you that you’re free and able to fly and laugh at the fact that you are being so silly. Tell you that the past is in the past and you can’t go back there, so you might as well make the most of what you have. Then she would make you biscuits (not cookies) for your journey. Mom would hug you, sing you a lullaby and tell you everything’s going to be ok and that she’s only a phone call away and how proud she is of you that you’re following your dreams, and could you follow a few for her too. Uncle Johnny is proud of you too and likes the pictures you’ll send him so he can travel along vicariously with you. And in the words of Pawpaw, “Do the best you can with what you have in the place you’re in.’ So you try that. Travel. Food. Drink. A cold. Covid. Visiting friends. Pushing and pushing and pushing yourself some more. You’re doing great, but maybe you could slow down a bit?
— But I need to work and make money and fit in my clothes and sleep well and laugh more and find my smile and floss and learn lots of new things and have it all figured out.
— Who says?
— I say!
— Oh. Well.
— Be kind to yourself, my love. Self-care is sexy. For you. For him. For us all.
— But why is it taking so long? I am aging. I want to do it all. Now. Yesterday!
— You are impatient.
— I am impatient. I saw a beach full of sand, and it reminded me of time. Did you know that over 320 years ago a huge sandstorm wiped out/buried 16 fertile farms and more in one night? The laird who lost his estate blamed it on a confessed witch, Isobel Gowdie, who’d foretold the incident 32 years earlier and was subsequently strangled and burned at the stake. On this same sandy spot, in the 1940s, during WWII, Army troops used it for training exercises in preparation of the Normandy landings. What events in my life have stopped time from running through my fingers, from burying me whole? Nothing comes to mind. But I can think of a few that have empowered the sandstorm. So where do I find my marram grass to protect my machair? How long will it take for it to grow? Where do I find my words? My sexy? My end-of-this-inner-war solution? My wild protective/protected forest?
— Patience. You are in the right place. The answers will come to you.
— Ok then.
So instead of returning to the familiar place that no longer exists, I ventured east to foreign lands. And at the same time that I explore them and notice their beauty, I take up arms and scratch and claw and fight them until I am forced to lay down my weapons in surrender. Deep down, I know they are only here to hold me and love me and show me beautiful things and a new life. Not strip away a life I once had or something I can’t recover. I’ll bring my family with me in my heart. And I’ll discover new things about myself and life and others and I’ll watch the seagulls and fall in love with them and the winds and the architecture and haggis and the hag stones and the funny names of towns and hills and lochs and the history and the accents and the long walks and maybe this boy and hopefully myself and all the fluffy dogs and definitely that entertaining Scot I can barely understand who’s sitting in the corner of a pub. They do make me smile.
Inverness and London and Brighton and the Black Isle and Nairn
Just realizing I’ve seen and done all of this in the last month. One month! No wonder I’m exhausted. Jeez, Julia. Give yourself a f*#king break already. Click on the collages to expand, and if you’re in the area, don’t miss the addresses I’ve listed below. Bon appétit. xo
When around Inverness, check out:
Velocity Café + Bicycle Workshop
1 Crown Ave, Inverness IV2 3NF
(Bike shop/veg café with coffee from Papercup)
91b Telford Street, Inverness IV3 5LE
(Cute spot near Muirtown Locks with a great full Scottish breakfast. Can’t wait to try the black pudding sausage rolls!)
Corner of High Street and Union Street, Fortrose IV10 8SU
(Smoked bbq, greens, cornbread + catfish, y’all, + a million scotches and beers)
Black Isle Brewery Bar
68 Church Street, Inverness IV1 1EN
(Thin-crust pizza, beer from their brewery)