15 January 2014

There and back again

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence,
as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
Kahlil Gibran

Every instant of our lives is essentially irreplaceable:
you must know this in order to concentrate on life.
André Gide

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It's a Universal Travel Truth that layovers suck. They are like the face a baby makes when you let it taste a lemon. Or maybe that's just what my face looks like when I'm faced with a long layover. Either way, I consider anything longer than three hours to be long. Three hours tests my patience threshold, after which I resort to taking unnecessary trips to the bathroom just to do something other than sit in one spot, moping, staring at my computer, greatly appreciative of every single person who likes my incessant Facebook status updates. I'm generally not an airport shopper, and although I don't mind stopping to eat in a restaurant or grab a drink at a bar, I can only sit there for so long. Because I'm connecting to another flight, I'm constantly on edge about which gate it's going to be at, where all my stuff is, how much wi-fi costs and why I think it's just ridiculous that airports don't offer free wi-fi for more than twenty minutes.

I left for the airport around 10am on Sunday, leaving my family, and one of my sisters who was only 10 hours away from giving birth to my very first nephew (although at the time we didn't know boy or girl). I missed it! It was killing me. I think if I had had to board my 8-hr flight without knowing if the baby had been born yet, I would have completely fallen apart. But I did find out. And it was a boy, and his name is Junah, and he is gorgeous and perfect.

My visit home was all over the place. For the first few days it was calm and relaxing and amazing. Family and more family, and that was it. But things slid into weirdness (much of it good, but generally emotional and/or unexpected) as the week went on. Among other things, I had completely failed to get together with a friend I've known for a long time (and haven't seen as much the last couple years, but that's another blog post entirely) and felt guilty about it. I had also gone a little overboard with another unexpected get-together, pulling one of our (as part of a marginally larger, varying group) well-into-the-morning nights in the middle of the week. Those particular kinds of evenings go back a few years with other friends involved, so a '6am' is kind of nostalgic in itself. But oh, nostalgia, you complex monster.

I like nostalgia, but not when it's painful. Not when it makes you fuzzy-headed and emotional and feeling guilty for dwelling on things that will never exist that way again.

6am's usually were in the summer. They were never very frequent and always extremely spontaneous, at least for me, which was a certain part of their appeal. More often than not they involved indie band videos on YouTube (La Blogotheque Takeaway Shows), typewriter(s), poetry, records on the turntable, sometimes dancing, random food from the fridge around 3am, followed by strong coffee, a rotation of visitors amongst the 'regulars,' sometimes a backyard fire depending on the house, and always copious amounts of alcohol.

So, essentially, nostalgia laid siege to my relaxing week at home, with a multiplicity of mixed emotions about the past and uncertainty about the future. I was so happy to be back, then wrenched around when I became homesick for the first time since moving, when I arrived home, and not the other way around. I found myself trying to keep from drifting into 'coulda-woulda-shoulda' mode when the visit ended. I forgot how, by being away from home or any familiar place or people, your feelings about it/them sort of crystallize over time. Sometimes it's not easy to face changes, or things that may have become clearer in your absence.

So, perhaps the moral of the story is... traveling when there is some major family event going on, or when you're majorly stressed out for whatever reason, and having to deal with two 5+ hour layovers... not a good idea. I know sometimes it's unavoidable. The major problem is that I was alone, with nothing to do but think, in the already anxiety-laden atmosphere of several airport terminals over a stretch of time in which much more sleeping should have happened.

Despite all this, it's refreshing to be back in Edinburgh. Classes started this week, a routine revs up again, I've got great friends to hang out with, this city is gorgeous and calm again after the New Year (no more carnival noise, yippee!), all my stuff is here, and... my mobile phone works normally. There is something fresh about being back, as if I'm able to see it more clearly. Keeping focused on the present is the best thing here, and is probably best in any case. And I also was able to, in the feat of technological greatness known as Skype, to speak to four generations of my family all at the same time: My nana, my mom, my sister, and her new son. How amazing is that? I may not be there physically, but I could still, in some sense, meet my new nephew. Yes, everything really is alright. :)

Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks. ;) What's a blog if not a place to spill every once in a while, eh?

Cheers guys!
Kate xx


  1. Nostalgia can be a tricky thing, that's is for sure!! glad you're doing well and are safe and sound back at school :)

    1. Normally I think it's good. I think one can get stuck on it, though, occasionally. And by one, I mean me. ;) Haha. It is good to be back in the land of tartans and bagpipes, for sure!


  2. nice post and pics :)