After nine glorious months, I'm down to my last five days living in Edinburgh, Scotland. As cliche as it is to say, it's been a whirlwind, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about moving back to Canberra this weekend. On one hand, I have missed Australia, and being away has really made it clear to me that I want to live in Australia long term.
But this move to Scotland has been about much more than just the place itself - it's been about making a lifestyle change, and carving out time for a calmer, more self-driven existence. Before we left Australia last year, I was in a pattern of busyness. I worked a demanding job, I was speaking at loads of events, managing other projects, and trying to see the people I care about as often as possible. These are all good reasons to be busy, but it often meant that I wasn't able to enjoy any one thing for long because time felt so finite.
I remember resenting having to drive out to go horse riding (totally mad!), or wishing I could cancel brunch with my best friends. It's safe to say that after months of not doing either, I can not wait to be able to do these things again! Moving to Edinburgh was an amazing circuit breaker. I got to reset my social life and my work life according to what I felt was important to me. I made space for things I enjoy, and things that make me feel good, like walking and enjoying the outdoors, hanging with dogs, and writing more.
Scotland is known for its beauty, and I managed to soak up as much of it as possible, rarely going a day without sending myself into nature. And the best thing was losing that sense of rushing through life, or going from one thing to the other without a chance to reflect on any of it.
I kept a running poem in my phone, Things I will miss about Scotland, to try and remember the best moments and the sense of peace I've found here, in the hope I can bring a bit of that back with me into what is shaping up to be a massive year.
Things I will miss about Scotland
Green even in places you don't want green,
like springing from cracks inside walls of old buildings
The smell of earth and growth and livings things that you can't see.
An hour away from the city
and you can hear pigeons purring at the very tops of trees
Huge trees, that look like they've been here for longer than any human.
Public transport that actually works
Bus drivers that banter as they change shifts,
And travelers that wait patiently, acknowledging them as people first
The wildness of the coast
The way the cliffs are curled and rough, as though wrenched recently from the sea
The sight of a bird of prey on a lightpost
Silent, watching, at home.
The cobble stones
I hate them and I love them
The grey Edinburgh stone and how it lights up more in the rain than in the sun.
The sheer abundance of history
So many ruins that some are now bird sanctuaries
So many ancient buildings that they are nightclubs, climbing centres, karate schools.
The adorable names of dignified places
Pittenweem. Penistone. Fishwives Causeway.
The way a country can be so grand and so silly at the same time.
The way my brain works here
The thoughts I am capable of having through the distance
The words I write, and the promises I make to myself
How those promises seem achievable here
The faith I have in myself.
The light at sunset
The moisture in the air turning everything into a golden haze
The softest pinks and lightest blues.
The layers of history rising tall in
the roofs of the old town.
The building changing in scale and style, but always connected to the same land under them.
Art and Vintage
Century General Store
Cafes that have become havens
Baristas that toe the line between friend and professional
Leaving at 12 like #YOLO every day
Not having to take it home
A free spirit for half days, to walk and think and wander.
Weekends as endless free time
No plans, no schedule, no obligations
Just tea, and cat, and walks in the
Brisk outside air.
The time we have for each other
The conversations that at home get lost in murmurs
about groceries or post-work meals
The banal of the everyday blunting the edges of our connection.
The smell in the air when it snows
Crisp and cool, like a bath
The pavements gleaming with ice and grit
Black ice a menace and a beauty.
The feeling of standing at the top of a hill
On the quiet Isle of Skye
Dog at my feet, the horizon stretching out ahead
And no thought of things to do
Items to be ticked off a list
The peace and clarity I have found
Not because of Scotland, really
But undoubtedly impossible without Scotland
The miles apart making space for new ways of being.