I’m driving up to Glasgow. I haven’t been for a few years. It’s a looooong drive and I’m doing it on my own so have plenty of time to get into my head and think about the things that have been getting me down. I recognise that I’m running away albeit, as a pre planned ‘holiday’. That’s OK. I need to run sometimes (metaphorically speaking) when things are too much.
Anyway, something happens to me whenever I cross the border into Scotland. It’s a feeling of immense joy and an ache all rolled into one that pulls me in and pushes me out, body and soul. It’s suddenly there and then whoosh, it’s gone. It’s been happening to me for years so I was expecting it, and yes, as soon as I saw the hills on the southern uplands, there it was. But this time, this time it’s different. This time I felt like a water balloon that had been filled too quickly, too soon and become too heavy and very, very fragile. I felt like I was on the brink of exploding. My eyes suddenly filled with tears and my heart felt crushed. The feeling is visceral and powerful, so much so that, like the proverbial kick up the bum, it stopped me in my ruminating tracks, taking my breath away. I felt my body recoil from the steering wheel. This hurt; emotionally, physically, and somewhere very deep in my soul. It was painful and took a long, long time to leave me.
I don’t feel that way when I travel back ‘doon sooth’. Taking some time to process all of this I realise that I don’t feel that way because going to Scotland feels like going home and it’s this concept of ‘going home’ that, like a seed, starts to germinate in my brain and I start thinking about my childhood, my origins and my roots.
When people have asked me “where are you from? “, I’ve always felt unsure what to say. Conceived in Chile, born in Argentina, raised in Scotland but so far have lived most of my life in England. Within all of that I’ve also lived abroad and travelled chunks of the world. It’s fair to say that I’ve moved around, a lot! It seems my life has been mapped out to be nomadic from before my existence. “Where are you from?” ……..pffft…..What does that even mean?
So, my life in the UK started at 9 months old and was a brief stint in London followed by a move to Motherwell for about 6 years then continued circling around the outskirts of Glasgow spending time here and there before making a beeline for the West End when I was roughly 8/ 9. There we continued to move around until my parents got a flat when I was 14 and was where I remained on and off until I was 20. Then I moved to England for uni. I found my man and got married. We moved a few more times and then, when my eldest was roughly 3 and a half, we did one final move because I thought it was important for her to experience a less nomadic life than me: one primary school and one childhood home please.
I’ve been making my life in this house for almost 15 years. In fact, I’ve lived in England for 27 years, longer than my life in Scotland. I’ve made a family here, I have friends here, jobs here, my children have roots here yet there was always a part of me that felt unsettled, like I was just passing through. Maybe early life experiences of being uprooted taught me that ‘home’ is temporary, anywhere can be made a ‘home’ and so I have continued this cycle by never daring to put down deep roots instead uprooting myself time and again.
And yet, the last couple of years I’ve had a yearning to return to Scotland. I miss the landscape, the air, the people, the patter. Scotland calls me and that feeling I get when I cross the border, that is a real, energetically charged, physical and soulful yank.
Perhaps home is not about bricks and mortar, or where you were born, or childhood memories or where family lives but is a place where your heart and soul belong. A pull to be somewhere that is felt in every fibre of your being and on every metaphysical level. Perhaps that’s what my heart and soul are telling me. It’s time to return. Return home, to Scotland.