And then I set foot on the land of Alba…

There are trips that become milestones in your life that mark the before and after. These trips don’t have a common length or destination. They can be planned out to the smallest details or they can be a spur of the moment thing with nothing planned at all. Sometimes they last a day but feel like an entire lifetime, sometimes they last a month or maybe even a year but feel like a blink of an eye. What they do have in common, however, is the feeling that nothing is the way it was before you took said trip. They galvanise your senses and tell you essential truths about yourself. 

I had such a trip this summer. A one day trip to Scottish Highlands which might seem very little, but it felt like an entire lifetime crammed into ten hours that left me in an emotional blur for a long while after I returned home. I was an emotional wreck because I didn’t want to leave. Ever. 

Those who know me are perfectly aware that I have my happy place – a city that floats on emerald waves, hidden behind a range of dazzlingly beautiful mountains. And I love said city with all my heart because it has protected me during the lowest times of my life, because it has given me what I said I wanted and then provided me with what I truly needed. I love Venezia because it’s theatrical and dramatic and surreal and dreamlike. It’s my place of escape where I can chase my dreams and live out stories my mind conjures to my heart’s content. And it will always be that special place for me that is in the league of its own – untouchable. 

I had always believed that I’d come out of my invisible fortress if I spent a longer period of time in Italy because I believed it to be opposite enough to my true self that being there would dynamite my walls and make me finally face the world being who I am. That never happened. The walls stayed in place. In fact, I ended up hiding in a much greater fortress than before. Regrets? Nah.

And then this summer I spent a day in The Highlands of Scotland and my walls receded, my fortress vanished of its own accord. At least for a little sweet while. 

Why? I believe because Scotland is much more suited to my essential self than Italy ever could be. Its climate, its nature, its people (their friendliness, openness, banter and sense of humour) and its language is what fits me so much more than the Italian counterparts. “Opposites attract and create a firework that eventually fades. Those alike create fire that brings warmth and comfort that lasts a long time.” It’s a quote I read recently but don’t for the life of me remember where or who said these words that ring so true to me. I spent years consciously learning Italian, forcing it into my mind. English set up camp in my brain on its own accord and never left like a gatecrasher. Italy is my opposite I’ve had crazy adventures aplenty with. Scotland is my alike I hope to have a warm and snuggly and nurturing future with. 

Language is a hyper important factor for me in every trip I take because it’s an instrument that provides me with additional level of comfort in the country I visit. I speak Italian, I do, and my knowledge of said language is enough for me to enjoy the ability of using it and it helps me get by in daily life, but nothing more. It doesn’t come even close to the level of comfort I feel when using English. If Italian is my stunningly beautiful, posh, yet slightly stiff and uncomfortable garment of formalwear, my once princess gown that used to be my daily attire that has been reduced to special occasions only, English is my soft cashmere sweater and jeans outfit I feel unbelievably comfortable in that I can dress up or down to my heart’s content. Italy and Venezia (sadly) feel slightly forced, while Scotland feels blissfully easy and natural.

Speaking of Scotland, I cannot give a fully coherent answer yet as to what exactly it means to me, but in my heart I know that these hills whisper to me in a language so warm and enticing like molten amber mixed with starlight that touches me on a level much deeper and truer than any other that I know. I am mesmerised by Scotland because it’s dramatic and wild and free and bursting with energy so deliciously untamed it runs through my senses like electric current making me feel unapologetically alive, a feeling I had searched for for years…

Soundtrack: “Ya Bassa” by Clanadonia (click here to listen)

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