Dim Light and Long Shadows.

Oh my, how good it feels to be back in Edinburgh. There’s been a fog around my head for the past couple of weeks because of the levels of fear and anxiety surrounding my frustrating health issues. This trip was somewhat in doubt for the days and even minutes leading up to my departure, and the first forty-eight hours here have been a wild emotional ride, but the vast magnitude of the Western Highlands and a gorgeous band of familiar faces in rain-swept Edina have helped me to partially shake this malaise and look toward health and brighter times ahead. I’m so glad I followed through on this, even through the doubt and immobilizing fear.

Coming back really hasn’t felt like much of an adventure because everything is so familiar and comfortable. It’s like the old pair of slippers waiting in the closet, and though these particular favorites are somewhat soggy just now, they still feel like I’ve always worn them, a calming comfort calling from the closet. When angledge and I moved to San Francisco after our year in Scotland, we would speak often about the near-autonomic urges to hop on down to the Elephant House for a cup of tea and a stunning view of the Castle, or to pop by St. Giles to hear the noon choir echo amongst centuries-old rafters. We both love S.F. immensely, but it was almost painful to have these innate promptings and not be able to follow them – to have these things be an everyday part of your life and then be held at bay, far across the sea.


I’m not rushing like a madman to get all the sights in this time around, and it feels like strolling around my second home casually is precisely the pace I need and want. I can function here, and the warm familiarity keeps me looking around each corner for recognizable faces and structures, storefronts and side-streets. I bused it into town from the airport the other morning, and quickly cabbed it over to Marchmont, past my old flat at Tollcross and across Bruntsfield Links with great excitement to anonymousseth’s and gingiber’s door. My first friends here are still as wonderful and open, hilarious and adventurous as when I met them six years ago, and it was so nice to catch up on the skinny around this magic little village of a city.



After a couple hours of unwind and blether across mewling cats and amidst subconscious enumeration of recent subtle changes to the flat, we nipped on down to my old neighborhood for a round of boiled dough at the new Elephants & Bagels. The enchanting thing about this town is that everyone here is near and rarely too busy to pop by for a cuppa. Seth made a flurry of quick calls, and by the time we broke bread, a handful of old chums had trickled in to say hi. I was so warmed by the greeting, and there is beauty in watching the table grow smaller as friends gather round, scooting in closer and appropriating chairs from other empty placements. It was a flash mob of good folk, and after an hour of catch-ups, the group melted off into the rain the same way they appeared, leaving Lara, Seth, and I to head back to their flat for a bit.



By evening (and my 36th consecutive waking hour) we had decided to make good on my Brass Monkey promise, and another round of calls was made before a fine pint of 80 was poured at the ol’ stomping ground, that funky Monkey. I couldn’t have been more at home, and we had some very good conversations about leisure and socialization after a handful of friends showed up to share in a drink. This is the way of it in Edinburgh, and we just don’t have this where I live. I realized then how much I missed these things, both the ability and eagerness of friends to take the time to pop ‘round for a chat, and also the establishment of the local pub as a regular part of one’s day. It doesn’t always have to be a stunning intellectual conversation, and it rarely lasts for more than a couple of pints. But it’s a very small city, with just about everything within walking distance, and the leisure time here is an everyday part of life, relaxation, and socializing. Back home, I work 10 to 14-hour days and then come home to sleep before doing it again. It literally takes weeks to get people together for even the most cursory social gathering. And then I realized how important these things are to my well-being, and I know I can rely on them here. It is a cultural thing, this, and it’s an important consideration for emotional health. And while I absolutely love my life back in San Francisco, I realized I don’t like being just a visitor here.




We trudged and splashed home through the Meadows later that night, and I quickly remembered my tipsy-cobble footing routine as Lara and I bandied about the finer points of the town. I’m quite sure that I’ve convinced them to visit the States next year, and though we didn’t swear it in blood, I did see a ginger stain somewhere on my wrist that would indicate some sort of pact. Could’ve been the pint, though.

Next morning saw me bleary-eyed but ready to drive, so it was down to Leith where the good people at Enterprise nabbed me a sleek new Astra to tool around the country in. This car is sweet, and thankfully, remembering how to drive on the wrong side of the road in the wrong side of the vehicle returned quickly, and thank the gods. Radio 1 still sucks, but I brought a fine selection of CDs, and it was back to the airport to pick up rudysyntax before the morning had ended. After a quick catch-up and consultation, we blazed off for Glasgow and ‘round the end of Loch Lomond, up the A82 through the Western Highlands. And then, pure fucking Highland bliss. More to come, I promise.


28 Responses to “Dim Light and Long Shadows.”

  1. thistlelurid Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 11:07 am

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. ::envy::

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 5th, 2006 at 6:33 pm

    We owe each other a totter around the island, you know. We'll make it happen one day soon.

  3. thistlelurid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 9:00 am

    if by totter…you mean TEETER-totter…then yes! 🙂 Im not famous for holding my liquor!
    hope youre having a blast, darren!

  4. dougygyro Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 11:08 am

    Oh, what I would give for a pint of 80 at the Monkey. Bring back a big bottle of 80 shilling for us to share?
    I understand what you mean about not liking being a visitor in a place like Edinburgh. I caught a taste of that during my time there, and the same for London. I need to spend more time with my dear Edina when I next hop the pond.

  5. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 5th, 2006 at 6:35 pm

    The bottles I bring back for us are guaranteed to have more kick than a wee suckle of 80. I know, you'll suffer.
    I'm planning on one visit a year, D, and I'd really love to have you join me for some of the next one if you're game.

  6. original_aj Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 11:32 am

    Glad to have you back in the toon. If you're interested, I realised at a friend's wedding the other day that the buttons on my kilt jacket are held on with rings as we discussed a while back. If you'd like a look I'd be happy to show you – or take a wander into Armstrongs & have a look at some of their older formal kilt jackets.

  7. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 5th, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks for the welcome, AJ. Yes, I'll have a look at those buttons in Armstrong's and see what I can see. I'll be in town for the entirety of next week and almost surely will be at the Monkey on most nights for at least a while. Would be good to see you.

  8. eskimolimon Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    Good old grey misty Edinburgh. That first photo (Marchmont) brought back so many wonderful memories. I didn't live in that part of town (I was a New Town & Stockbridge type) but I spent many happy evenings around there. I think I might have had a whitey in the middle of Bruntsfield Links (bloody student).

  9. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 2:25 am

    Ah, a fancy-pants Stockbridge boy! I love that part of town, very local and a fine hustle and bustle. I like hearing about your experiences in this grey city.

  10. dichroicynosure Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    What a relief to hear! I think we both knew that the place itself might be just the healing remedy your stress monkey was needing. A good anxiety-be-gone spell needs that last Scottish ingredient and you seem to know your way around self medication techniques. : ) Burp! Nothing touches the profundity of a homey-feeling place. Isn't it amazing how welcoming and "at home" you can feel going back to a place you spent so little of your life! I marvel at this when my friends gather in Oslo. I think we both had better social lives abroad : ) Ahhh it must be so jolly and refreshing to be in those mists and alleys and under those looming grey buildings, ironically.

  11. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:28 am

    Completely so. But we're Northern types at heart, and I believe the drama, weather, and timelessness of places like Oslo and Edinburgh speed up the rooting process for us. And yes – having a healthy social life abroad is incredibly refreshing and certainly easier than back at home. We can be who we want to be, sinking some of our less desirable habits and traits in favor of new environments and a new start on PR, in a place where we can make our own histories anew.

  12. catness Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    Mmmmm. Looking forward to more about this trip.
    <small>I'll be moving to London some time… in the something something future, and I have yet to come to grips with my lifetime enchantment with the idea of England, vs. my current inability to relate to it at all. (Except London, which screams CITY at me like nowhere else I've ever been except NYC, and which I love for it, but it still doesn't yet have anything to do with England in my association.) All your posts about Edinburgh make me remember my magickal expectations.

  13. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:31 am

    This is exciting news to hear. You seem like just the kind of spirit that would melt right into a new and wonderful life in London. Keep us in the loop, and maybe we can meet up between here and there sometime soon.
    The whisky! It calls!

  14. angledge Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Ohhhh….. Monkey!
    Ohhhh….. Funky!
    Miss you both!

  15. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:33 am

    It's still the same, Ang. Everyone is asking about you!

  16. aureliasveil Says:
    October 2nd, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    Do you find, upon satisfaction of your nostalogic impulses, that this is THE place for you? Or is it more a warm blanket (even as a foggy cloak) of memory of a time of ether ( i.e. temporary, as you may have known being there as a student (?),) which is perhaps a romanticised version of a home you keep in your head? I ask, of course, for my own selfish reasons. If it's too personal a question, I am only too happy to step back into the mist… :/
    In any case I hope (and believe from what I see here) that you are on the mend, and revelling in love and loveliness!

  17. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 5:41 am

    As I was mentioning to <lj user="no_mans_land">, I understand how I could be pegged as living caught in my romantic notions of greener grass on the other side of the mossy stone wall. But I've done this before in real life, and I cannot deny the comfort and connection I have with this country. There's nothing rushed, dire, or dangerous feeling. It's all like a warm cloak of calm and fulfillment that I simply do not experience in the States. I'm sure that much of this is due to the beauty and kindness of my friends here, and of course there's the historical and environmental connection which keeps me warm and happy. I've got everything I could want back home, but there's a hollowness inside that America does not fill. I'm not meant to be there forever.
    Now, I've not been traveling to a whole lot of places, but with the love I have for this country, I feel I've already found my finest destination. It's never a disappointment, and always a fulfillment of my heart and mind to the utter brim.
    You're very sweet; thank you for your good wishes. There are very few too-personal questions you could ask, and I'm thankful for this correspondence.

  18. bellybuttongirl Says:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 6:26 am

    ooh 🙂 edinburgh. that mistiness in the fifth photo is so alluring.
    i always enjoyed edinburgh, but the main experiences i had there were in summer during festival season, camping south of the city, and renting a car to go driving to ben nevis, loch ness and the isle of sky.
    so many graveyards and so many freehooses 😀

  19. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:38 am

    So many people love the jam-packed, Carnivale atmosphere of the festival, and I understand why. Personally, I love a winter's Sunday afternoon, when the Old Town is absolutely deserted and the Canongate feels like it might as well be 1757.

  20. tisme Says:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    You make me so happy to live where I live. Danke 🙂 Oh, and glad you enjoyed it, sorry I didn't get to meet you.

  21. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:42 am

    Oh, I'm not gone yet, dear Erin. I'll be in town until mid-October, and will be generally oot and aboot at the Monkey and elsewhere on any given evening. Love to meet up if you fancy a chat.

  22. tisme Says:
    October 7th, 2006 at 8:36 am

    Oh, cool! Well, I'm off to my original home town in Northern Ireland next week, to see my new niece, but am free Mon/Tues, although I *think* I'll be dashing about buying last minute Christmas presents and so on (this is my last trip there before the New Year) so unless you're here post the 17th when I return, it may not be possible. This is, of course, all just an elaborate smokescreen, as am terminally shy about meeting people of lj unless I'm just casually introduced to them at a massive party; I don't make good first impressions, I'm afraid 🙂 Maybe next year I'll have more courage!

  23. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 8th, 2006 at 1:27 am

    Yes, I'm out the morning of the 14th, so it won't work this time around. And I'm counting on us all to have more courage by next year – as a matter of course.

  24. tisme Says:
    October 8th, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Done and done. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  25. handworn Says:
    October 3rd, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    Hey there– you told me of Culloden: The Swords and the Sorrows some time back. Just thought I'd tell you that there's a copy on eBay that I can't afford right now. So if you can or know someone on the lookout…
    All the best.

  26. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:49 am

    Thanks for the info. I've got a copy from a few years back, but it's certainly a good find for anyone interested. Was just out on the moor yesterday, chatting with the property manager of the field. Lots of good stuff going on, which you'll be hearing about here in the very near future.

  27. no_mans_land Says:
    October 5th, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    <small>ooo. more travelogue, please ! i especially find the cultural gaps intriguing, as they provide perspective for my own life. you seem to have a deep connection with this environment . . your cozy nostalgia is contagious. :]</small>

  28. FunkyPlaid Says:
    October 6th, 2006 at 3:55 am

    Oh, I'm so glad you're enjoying it, and there's lots more to come. Finding the time while I'm here is difficult, however – the conflict between experience and logging the experience. If it didn't happen on Live Journal – it didn't happen! 🙂
    Some might say that my nostalgia suffocates my present, but I don't feel that way. Every moment is a blessing and I live for the future as much as I romanticize the past. But it's all part of the timeline of life, yes? Thanks for reading, love.

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