If I’m being honest (and I am always honest) this was a sort of silly thing to start writing on a Tuesday (if, indeed, it is a Tuesday). Edinburgh has meant so much to me at so many times in my life, it’s stupid to try to… All nagging doubts aside, if I question everything I’ll write, I’ll never write anything, so here we go.
The second-to-last time we left the US we went to Scotland. It was, in every way, a perfect trip. We stayed in the loveliest house I’ve ever seen, in Edinburgh, with a terraced garden with a rosemary TREE, and gooseberries and golden raspberries and fruit trees that attracted magpies and European goldfinches and feisty little robins.
Then at the very end we were all set to fly out from Edinburgh airport and our flight was cancelled. We were scheduled for a flight the next day and put up in an airport motel. (After a day in town we watched comedy shows and ate snacks from the bar and watched some World Cup soccer.) We got to the boarding gate, the next day, and at the very last minute that flight was cancelled as well. The airline had no answers this time, and staying in a one-flight-a-day airport seemed foolish, so we took the train to London, spent the night there, and flew out uneventfully (but really really memorably, to me) in the morning.
At the time, this whole period was quite stressful. Time passed bizarrely, it felt blank and black, and I felt I had to be weirdly adult in unexpected situations, and as the saga continued I started to feel that we had some kind of Brady Bunch-esque curse against us.
But I have to also say that those few days, in my memory, are some of my absolute favorite moments of travel ever. Not because of what we did, but because of the odd out-of-time, wood-between-the-worlds feel of those hours. We took the time to visit places David and I had loved on our honeymoon, that we hadn’t had time to visit with the boys. We lay in the sun, just out of the shadow of the castle, and watched the seagulls harass people in the park. We had beer and French Fries at a pub in Rose Street. The memory of Isaac trying strange foods in the airport while I drank wine very early in the morning (it’s never too early in an airport! Nobody is judging) is so tender to me it still makes me weep.
I have always loved Edinburgh, and sharing it with Malcolm and Isaac in this strangely heightened time is an experience I wouldn’t want to repeat, but would not give up for anything in the world.
So here are a few things I love about Edinburgh at the moment.
Hidden in a shoebox: vintage Edinburgh shots that were nearly lost – in pictures. This gorgeous collection of images found in a shoebox of Edinburgh in the 60s, by street photographer Robert Blomfield.
When David and I went in the last century, and we visited the ornithological society, and the elderly gentleman who oversaw operations arranged to take us out in his tiny winnebago the next day. We saw sweet eider ducks, and the big gulls he called “bruisers,” but as he said, we never got our European Starling (until this last trip).
This absolutely kills me every time. Puddle of tears. From the stadium we saw whilst walking up Arthur’s Seat, though it was empty because everyone was in Russia for the World Cup.
This song is not actually a memory of Edinburgh, though Idlewild met there, but a memory of a small club in Boston where they were performing. Roddy Woomble bummed a cigarette from me.