I had been debating for weeks on whether I should book them... the tickets across the pond to visit family and friends. Yes people, I'm going back to Scotland. Again. Perhaps that's the reason for my insomnia. I'm a bit nervous. It's a lot of money, people. It means two months of freelancing and a bit of scrimping and saving where I can. But, it's worth it in the end. I think.
The main reason is to visit family. My aunt is 89 this year. Yes, 89. Eighty-nine. Almost 90. Given that my grandmother, Bella, after whom I've named my cat, lived to 99, it's not far-fetched that dear Auntie Tibby will enjoy the same ripe age. Or, maybe not. And that is why I hit the purchase button tonight because you just never know what life will have in store - for me, for her, for Scotland.
It's also a chance to visit my sister-friend of 27 years. We often go months at a time with no communication but when we get together it's like the time has never passed. Jokes are shared, bottles of wine are opened and we catch up with two years' worth of news. Her daughter is now four, no longer doing the bum shuffle along the floor. She now grabs the phone from her mum to speak to Auntie Scribe from Canada. The conversation is mostly one-sided, but it doesn't matter.
My love affair with Scotland started when I was 18 months old during our first family vacation. My mum's aunts living in Canada kept up the love affair by playing Pipes on Parade (my favourite) and offering to pack me away in their suitcases whenever they went home for a visit. It never happened and I was mad every time they left for the airport without me tucked away. They came home with gifts from the "motherland" but it just wasn't the same. Scotland, I felt, was in my blood. It was my birthright to go and experience it for myself. Even if I was only five.
Fast forward to my 11th year, March Break, when my mum decided it was time. It was a 10-day visit but it was magical. We spent a week in Wales visiting my gran and grandad before traveling by train to Edinburgh to visit my aunts and uncles, cousins and my best friend who I didn't know was to be my best friend before we were introduced over my aunt's back garden fence. I can't count the number of times I've been back, with my parents and by myself, often doing side trips to the Highlands (where, funny enough, I was chased by a Highland cow - true story), a jaunt to Amsterdam and to the Anne Frank House, and now to visit friends in England. The last visit saw me spend 10 hours walking the Edinburgh streets, visiting St. Mary's Close and Roslin Castle. I visited the auldest pub in the U.K. and wore the heels off of my good walking shoes. I can't wait to go back, to feel the cobblestones under my feet and rest my head where my heart lives.
So why the apprehension? I really do not know. I'm always welcomed with open arms. Even the rain feels good - and even the golf ball-sized hail stones I experienced in 1999 while walking past the old Scarlet Fever Hospital-cum-0ld age home where my gran once lived. Perhaps it's because I am afraid of the love affair's end. Is this the time when I'll notice the grime, the increased crime and the bad economy? I sure hope not. Perhaps the sound of the pipes marching down the Royal Mile will drowned it all out and I'll be free to continue to love my home-away-from home.
Until then, I'll just put my credit card away, start saving my cockles and sleep knowing that in three months' time I'll be back in the land of the thistle. God help me, how I love it, but did I have to book in the prime holiday season?