Ruins, Culloden, and that Random Time I Cried for No Reason

Originally published at Vision JunkieDSC_0196What day is this now? Day five? I don’t even know anymore, ladies and gentlemen. I was in Scotland for a long ass time, let me tell you. I’ve seen a lotta shit. Shit I can’t unsee.

Like this barracks above that I thought would make a spectacular place to shag a lucky bastard in the open air. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had such ideas. I’m also aware I don’t actually know such a lucky bastard, but give it time.

This is the top of the Cairngorms below.

DSC_0157We ventured to these hills (Sorry, I can’t call them mountains. They’re not bristly and jagged enough) more than once, and I vowed to return and ski there one day. As much as a person can ski… on a hill.

DSC_0172I also decided the word Funicular is surprisingly spectacular in a Scottish accent. What isn’t really? We put our feet in Loch Ness, visited Culloden, an event that had me wholly emotional given I’d recently careened through Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series in the preceding months, and more or less wandered aimlessly with our sights set on Skye. Had I known what was coming, I might’ve braced myself.

DSC_0285There’s a place in the Western part of Scotland, north of Glasgow by who knows – forty minutes maybe. It’s called Glencoe.

DSC_0346It is one of those places where your heart just stops. Where you feel tiny and insignificant, but huge and imperative. I can’t explain it, but it summoned everyone and their mom to pull over and take a damn moment to bask in the glory of the color green. These hills tower over you like a foreboding father who knows you’ve fucked up, but still loves you. I wanted to get lost, go climb as far as I could, potentially get riled up on “The Call of the Void” again (L’apel du vide), but I didn’t go too far. We had a ways further to go to our hotel and the light was shifting fast.


Look closely. My daughter is in this photograph.

This is one of those magical places where you’re reminded of things you didn’t know you’d forgotten.

So… full disclosure.

I went to Scotland last year because I was broken. Not wholly, I don’t believe I could ever wholly be broken, but as close as I’d ever come or hope to be again. I’d planned to move to Scotland for much of my life, but in the two years preceding my trip, I needed her. I felt pulled to the place like gravity. I couldn’t just go for a vacation, for some week long jaunt. I needed Scotland in my blood, because my blood was thin.

DSC_0403My father died on his own birthday in 2012. On the same day, when I reached out to the man I loved for comfort, I received the words, “You should be with people who love you today, because I don’t.”

After writing that out, it seems completely absurd. People like that exist? Cruelty that precise shouldn’t be real.

This man had always been very emotionally and psychologically abusive, something you don’t recognize when you’re in the middle of it, but even this – being told “I never loved you” as you have tears streaming down your face from grief –  that seemed beyond the pale. As a result, I don’t know that I ever truly grieved my father’s loss. I never properly processed the notion that the only man who had loved me for every breath I’d taken had gone to sleep in the bed of his trailer in a truck stop in New Jersey and just never woke up again. Perhaps I should be grateful. Being distracted by lesser things maybe got me through. Losing someone like my dad could have certainly broken me. Losing a monster who wasn’t half the man my father could scrape off his shoe? Not so much.

DSC_0410Still, they say the after effects of abuse are often just as powerful as the abuse itself, and I embodied that theory wholly. That fucker took my faith. Not in some God, as that doesn’t really apply here, but in love, in my self, and my ability to be lovable or choose a man who wouldn’t turn out to be a monster at his center. When I still wasn’t free of his hold a full year and a half later, still not returned to my usual self, I set my jaw and decided I would go to the place that called me, and let it work whatever magic she might yet have. Because I fucking needed magic, again. I would go live in Scotland for the Summer. Within two weeks of making the decision, I had that house sitting gig. Clearly the Universe liked my idea. By the second week I was in Scotland – sitting in the kitchiest dining room, surrounded by glitter art and pewter naked ladies holding crystals and riding dragons (I house sat for classy folks, let me tell you) waiting for ASDA to deliver my Spinach and Strawberries and Scottish Cheddar – I was myself again. I was sound.

Well, almost.

This isn’t Glencoe anymore, as far as I know. This is the road just past it, curling through flat moors of green and gold. We were driving along, hell bent on getting to wherever it was we were staying when I suddenly looked out at this horizon and felt home.

DSC_0416If I could describe the way this felt in words, I’d be poet laureate. Suddenly, staring out to the North East, to this green expanse of nothing, I knew without question that my home was there. In that direction. Be it a person or a place or a piece of myself I haven’t yet found, I felt this overwhelming sense that if I started walking across this earth in that direction and just didn’t stop, I would find it. Or more aptly, be found.

I had tears streaming down my face before I could wholly understand what I was feeling. I have this photograph framed in my bedroom. I think of that moment whenever I look at it, and it draws me back to Scotland all the more. Good thing I leave in 51 days, wouldn’t you say? Maybe I’ll find it this time. Cross your fingers for me.

Still, just knowing it’s there, knowing what it feels like when you sense it close, it was enough.

DSC_0419Bit deep for a Photography blog post by Yours Truly, I realize. What can you do? Better out than in I always say.

Tomorrow we reach Isle of Skye, Fairy Pools, Herpangina and maybe even the Adult Film that never happened.

We shall see.

May the force be with you. Until next time.


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