Scotland: Before and After

August 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm (Travel) (, , , , , , , , )

The most important thing you need to know about me is that I am a homebody. It took me decades to finally get an apartment that feels permanent and cozy and me. I live alone. I support myself. I enjoy my space even though it’s not perfect – I could use some outdoor space and I so need a cat.

I have always preferred to study life through a window, to have a barrier between me and the pain. I trust no one with my spirit.

Making arrangements to travel to Scotland affected my body in various physical incantations. This is how I am: when I am stressed it shows on my body. I internalize my concerns rather than voicing them and then, over time, I start noticing bruises. Planning this trip (and all my planning was emotional, I used a travel agent for the practical planning) took a lot of courage. My brain kept yelling at my body. My monthlies stopped completely until a month after I was back from my trip. I got bruises. I got extremely painful gas. I couldn’t sleep. It felt like colic – no wonder colicky babies are constantly crying. I wanted to curl up under the bed and hibernate until I could actually get on the plane. Once the deposit was paid, there was no way I was going to cancel. I was going to Scotland despite what my brain was blackmailing my body with.

A good friend, knowing me all too well, bought me this magnet. She, who is a traveler, an adventuress, gave me sound, practical advice and never ignored my fears, no matter how irrational they seemed.

You will not fit in. That’s OK. You’re not Scottish, you’re Scottish-Canadian. And that’s a cool thing, once you accept it!!! Take anything with you that you want to show to Scotland. For me, that was a photo of my aunt (and I took others but hers was essential). For other people, it’s a stuffed toy or a favourite book (but not so favourite that it can’t be replaced if absolutely essential—although nothing seems to happen to those super-special things, except maybe adventure).

Take your debit card, just because ATMs are convenient sometimes and even though they’ll charge you fees, it’s still better than a cash advance. Make sure you have a four-digit pin, and call your bank and your Visa to tell them which countries you expect to be traveling to and when so they don’t shut down your card. Do you have your camera charger? Extra memory?

And yes, you can buy anything you need in Scotland. I might cost more but that can be OK.

She’s the type to just save up the money, buy a ticket and go. She stays in Hostel. She’s half my age. Is that what makes her brave? I remember being braver. I remember big plans to travel the world. I was going to go places and study history. One of the reasons I went to Scotland was for the history – I love exploring the past. The past is easier to capture than the present and less terrifying than the future.

Yes, I do enjoy watching The Tudors… 🙂

There is a certain elegance to the past. Certain things were not discussed – did you know that in many European cities you have to pay to pee (this I found out at the Toronto airport as I made new friends with the others in my tour group). What I discovered by leaving home and leaving my comfort zone was that there was nothing I couldn’t figure out if I had to; and that the problems you worry and plan for are never the problems you encounter – never even worried about having money for the toilets or what I would do if there were an eight hour delay in Toronto. (I read. I made friends with my fellow travelers. Ultimately, I coped.)

My brain stopped yelling at my body, for the most part, the minute I got on the tour bus.

I enjoyed the trip. I enjoyed the people. I conversed with some Scottish strangers. As always, I solved my own problems as they came up as my friend had reassured me that I could.

When I was back home for about a week, I emailed her tidbits of my happiness. I said that I had amazing news and an amazing time.

She asked me, in jest, if I had met a Scottish Laird with a library and fallen in love (as much with the library as the Laird – she does understand my heart).

I am home. Have been home now for almost three months. I am starting to contemplate another trip. I anticipate my brain will still, foolishly, yell at my body. I will be brave and travel anyway.


  1. Scotland: Before and After « Solitary Spinster | Stirling Castle said,

    […] Read more from the original source: Scotland: Before and After « Solitary Spinster […]

  2. Marion said,

    Superb post…standing and facing my fears is always the better way for me. Everything, then, relaxes…

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