How Did I Get Here?
I believe it is important to write when traveling. An excerpt from my journal:
I could not fully wake myself up that morning.
There was a mesmerizing monotony of the boat swaying with each cut through the dark black waves. I was told beforehand that there is essentially zero visibility when it comes to Loch Ness. Why I initially questioned the factuality of this remark, I do not know – for it was immediately clear that the old man was right. It seemed strange that fresh water could present itself so ominously. The water spilled like ink away from the power of the boat with a gold tinge to the broken waves. The normal white crest of a wave has no place in Loch Ness. It is known that the mountains dominate the Scottish Highlands. But the 23 miles of this watery darkness extends to the edge of these mountains, threatening to swallow them whole.
Its eerie. Its looming. The Scottish folklore becomes increasingly intriguing. The Kelpies are said to be supernatural horses, dark grey or ghost white, haunting the lochs and lonely rivers. It entices its victims to ride on its back and carries them to their watery graves. I was enamored by the mythical stories hailing from this magical place.
I do not recall how long the boat slid across the dark water. There were roughly twenty of us on board. I had one of those rare moments that I have only experienced a couple times in my life. That strange and disorienting ‘how did I get here?’ moment. Logistically of course I knew. I bought a plane ticket. Then a two-hour drive. Boat ticket. But what lead me specifically here, on this very day? I looked at my hands and squeezed them into a fist to ensure that they were mine. I inhaled. I felt my eyes begin to water from the cold. The wind played with my hair. I looked at the other passengers. Some leaned from the rails. Some stay glued in their seats. Some are tantalized by the water. Some stared off into seemingly nothingness. Where did she travel from? What brought him here? Is she happy? Is he grieving? Is she lost?
Kerouac once put it into words better than I could:
“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn't know who I was - I was far away from home, haunted and tired with travel, in a cheap hotel room I'd never seen, hearing the hiss of steam outside, and the creak of the old wood of the hotel, and footsteps upstairs, and all the sad sounds, and I looked at the cracked high ceiling and really didn't know who I was for about fifteen strange seconds.”
Back on land, battlegrounds and castle ruins sprawl across the Highlands. The earth feels alive and vibrant, trying to warn urgently of its past. The land and its strongholds were repeatedly passed back and forth between disagreeing countries, bloodshed following bloodshed.
Small white flowers sprinkled amongst the green is the only touch of femininity in the cold environment. Eyes closed, I temporarily draw my hood down over my face and succumb to the fact that the cold rain is going to strike from whichever angle it so pleases. Opening my blurry eyes, I take in the height around me. It’s good to feel small. Fog obscures the true peaks of mountain tops as it plays tricks with my eyes, leaving me to anxiously await something formidable stepping out from its midst.
I’m stirred from my trance as muffled voices around me start to become clear. It is time to go. I snap out of my daze and make sure it is actually my legs that are walking me back to the vehicle.
The winding roads and soft rain orchestrate the perfect lullaby as I sleepily ride back to Edinburgh. It all feels like just a dream.