Thursday, July 10, 2014


As I'm falling asleep, if I try hard enough, I can picture myself somewhere else. 

I'm sitting in the tartan seats on the top floor of the bus, in the front row, the best spot for people watching and picture taking. 

Maura and I are walking up Arthur's Seat, doing trust falls at the top where the wind fully supports us. Niamh is teaching Mark and Maura to do the hand jive in their kitchen after dinner.

Or we're driving through the countryside and through some trees I spot the tower of a castle. I tell Norma to take her eyes off the road for just a second and admire a newly born lamb, then, at the castle we visited, making sheep noises in attempt to attract them over to us so I could pet one (which never happened). I picture all the things Norma did to make me laugh, like arranging an entire bread festival in Paris, or, knowing it would make a great photo-op, agreeing to feed birds some baguette at the Notre Dame. I made her a birthday banner for her 75th, and she got Kris, Paul and me Easter eggs, even though we're all way too old for them. She showed me how to change into a swimsuit in public, then together we went for my first swim in the Mediterranean. The day we went to Liverpool so I could see the Beatles museum, then making sure I had a photo of me outside the Cavern where they got their start.

Sometimes it's already morning and I'm walking through downtown Reykjavik in the cold, on a mission to get my favorite pastry at Sandholt, while babies take their morning naps outside in their prams. I'm back outside at lunchtime for the afternoon fashion show of trends previously unseen. Mothers in capes and furs, fathers in brightly hued trousers and all-weather boots. Preschoolers are better dressed than me.

Other nights I'm arriving at Waverley Station and while all the commuters or families coming back from holiday hurry to the exit, I slow down and look up at the arched glass roof. I can't help but smile as I make up way up the walkway and take in the view of skyline again. I'm by myself, and I'm not expected home at any particular time. So I walk the opposite direction, aimlessly exploring. I take in the stone buildings, unchanged for hundreds of years, and watch as others go about their lives. I see something in a window and go inside. Yet another museum is free, and I look at the postcards in the shop. I watch the Millennium Clock on the hour. Someone asks me for directions. And then I get back on my tartan bus seat where, for once, I don't mind how long the ride takes. I'm happy to be there.

It's been hard this past month since coming home. It doesn't feel real, and I'm not sure I want it to be. My being home seems impermanent, as though I could be going sometime soon. The memories are strong, yet slowly fading, so night after night as I fall asleep, I try to keep them alive.

I have countless pictures, but they are not enough. I need to keep invisioning myself in these places, keep hearing the the lilt of the voices, remember the meaning of the expressions, and to hold onto the memories I promised myself I would never forget.

My family and friends ask me for my favorite parts. The best thing I saw, most unusual thing I ate, strangest expression I heard, best place I went, favorite person I met. I don't know what to say. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I can choose from, but mostly I fear that saying them aloud would mean it's really over.

So now I'm trying to focus on just how fortunate I am to have too many happy memories to decide on just one to tell you. I'm going through my pictures, trying to decide what to do with them, and which ones are good enough for a slideshow. And, of course, coming up with a plan to be able to go back soon.

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