A Feeling Like Home

Applecross, Scotland

I was lost, that I knew for sure. Alone on an unfamiliar street in Paris, I stood and wondered where exactly I took the turn that led me down this particular path. My mind fills with philosophical answers to the big hows and the bigger whys; most likely, though, it was simply the left-right-right combination of detours I had blindly walked only minutes before. This was the third week of my backpacking trip from Ireland to Spain, my first time out of the United States and while I knew I should be out enjoying the beautiful Parisian sights and city lights, I couldn’t get my mind off of Scotland.

Edinburgh, Scotland is an eerily stunning clash of history and unabashed Celtic pride. At 7pm on any given night, the sound of bagpipes weaves its way through the Scottish fog as the flag flies proudly from the top of The Royal Mile. The cracked and crooked cobblestone streets all seem to lead to a bar offering the finest whisky to grace a drinking glass; the people can best be described as the kind you’d hope to grab that drink with.

Farther up north, the Highlands stand as a quiet testament to the heart of Scotland. A drive passed Loch Ness and a look at the flat, calm waters that have been rumored to house the mysterious Nessie make the legend come to life. Standing ashore, feeling the chilling Scottish breeze slide across your cheeks makes you want to believe in something greater than what is readily visible. That is what Scotland is, an accumulation of beautiful places that give you something to believe in.

Roughly 20 miles Northeast of the loch is Culloden Battle Field, the well-known and well-preserved site of the final battle of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. Stoic. Still. Scotland. On this land lays memorial stones of the proud, fierce Scotsmen who loved their country enough to never falter in their passion. Mackintosh, Fraser, Maclean, to name a few. Clansmen and countrymen who embodied what it is to be Scottish — what it is to find something to be proud of, what it means to love.

I never expected what Scotland has given me — a fresh perspective, a fresh start and a land to lay my dreams. As George Campbell Hay said in his poem The Four Winds of Scotland, “It is Scotland, Highland and Lowland that is laughter and warmth and life for me.”