Thursday, January 24, 2013

Collecting Homes & Between Them

It's been only four days since leaving Glasgow, and yet it already feels like that moist cold flat happened to someone else in some other lifetime. Four days and three cities and three different sets of wonderful warm people. There was no snow in Glasgow, nor in Manchester, but the land all around is six inches deep in white and the powder growing as our double decker bus hurtled south. There's looking like a tourist, and there's gawping at snow hitting the window, stuck to trees and falling from the sky.

(The majestic turn of wind turbines made mysterious and magical in the blur of snow, against a snow-blank sky and anchored to snow-buried hills.)

Returning to places you do not know intimately yet have established a memory landscape upon is a curious deception. While I know the homes my friends have opened to me well, their city streets are hazy recollections. I have no idea of the layout of Manchester and Nottingham but managed to find tea shops I'd enjoyed in both and enjoy them a second time.

The sharing of such discoveries is a new thing for me, still. Perhaps always. J approves of one tea shop and disapproves of another. We both discover a retro game store and the oldest pub in England. He meets friends I have known so long yet have never met, and seeing that my friends also enjoy my friends is a cockle-warming delight.

This tour through England is something of a long goodbye, which is odd because it is Scotland that was our home. Somewhere between Glasgow and Manchester we crossed the border and it was a moment unnoticed and unmarked. I was probably dozing. Possibly snoring.

(J is intent on the 'hams' of England, having hit Birmingham/Burning Ham and Nottingham/Not A Ham and just now noted Grant Ham and Bing Ham on bus billings as they swing past the window.)

So many people- Wait, let me correct that. So many Scots asked me "Why Scotland?" There isn't really a neat answer to that question. It might have been due to Braveheart, or it might have been due to generic fat fantasy worlds harkening back to the shared delusion of what the Highlands are. Perhaps it was simply because it was far away, full of mist and crags and dark grass and all the things that weren't to be found in my backyard.

Now, knowing I won't set foot in that rich soggy land for some years to come, I can say definitively and certainly, it is because Scotland is my home on the other side of the world.


  1. Did you get asked any "Do you come from a land down under?" by the non-Scots? j/k.

  2. Well, it was nice to meet you both while you were over.