Today’s writing prompt: When was the last time you were happy, really happy? Obviously, this is the companion prompt to the piece I wrote about fear. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this (yup, avoiding the actual writing again, youbetcha), because I want to get it right.
There are times when I’ve been happy (occasions with friends, my interactions with animals, all sorts of things) and fewer when I’ve been mind-blowingly ecstatic (my second marriage leaps to mind, despite my mother’s attempts to make that day a rotten one).
The last time I was really, REALLY OH-MY-FREAKING-GOD happy?
September 2007. When we went to Scotland.
Those who have known me for a while know of my deep and abiding love for Scotland. It’s bred in the bone, although I’m not sure where it comes from. Certainly my parents harbor no great love for it (or for much of anything, but that’s another story). My mother’s branch of the family came from the Welsh/English borderlands by way of Ireland, Scotland, and France. Maybe there’s something to racial memory. I don’t know. All I know is that on the long list of places I’ve always wanted to visit, Scotland tops them all.
When we deplaned in Glasgow and walked through the airport, I felt the pulse of a mighty heart beneath my feet, the welcome of the land I belong to. “Home at last!” it seemed to say. “Where the hell you been, girl?” and that’s indeed how I felt. Most of my life, I’ve felt like I didn’t belong — in my family, in my school, in my town. In Scotland, I was instantly at peace, instantly at home as I’ve never been before. For the next ten days, I experienced a pleasure and contentment I have rarely known. I was where I belonged. I know it sounds odd, feeling so strongly for a place you’ve never been before. All I can report is what I experienced. When I went to Scotland, I went home.
Despite how it sounds, I’m really not dewy-eyed and rosy-glassed about Scotland. We met our share of unfriendly people there, but I have to be honest and say that most of them were tourists like us. The locals were unfailingly polite, particularly in the face of the boundless, puppy-like enthusiasm displayed by myself and my good friend Pam (who, with her husband Mack, accompanied us).
Americans can be quite off-putting in their in-your-face brashness and if I was rude, I didn’t mean to be. I just couldn’t contain so much joy.
Between us, Pam and I took over 800 photographs. (God bless our patient and tolerant husbands, who must have felt like they were being asked to stop the car every thousand feet or so.)
We packed more than was probably wise into those ten glorious days, traveling from Glasgow to Loch Ness, to Fort William and Inverness (and points northwest), to Pennan (Mecca for fans of the movie “Local Hero”) and Aberdeen (beautiful shining city by the sea), to Edinburgh and Dunkeld (where I became a stovie fan for life) and last, alas, to Glasgow and the flight home.
I cried on the plane, heartbroken at leaving. So, yes, there was sorrow mixed with the joy of the trip (the two often do go hand-in-hand, it seems), but the unbridled delight of the journey, of finding my place in the world, has never diminished. I miss it still. I will go back. We’ve yet to scale Ben Nevis — and that is DEFINITELY on my bucket list.