Last summer, while travelling in the UK with my 90-year-old grandmother, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish on my trip. One of them was to take a photograph of a Highland cow — which after a series of petty crimes was finally deemed impossible — and another was to drive backwards-standard on the wrong side of the road.
While my husband cautiously steered our rental car out of the Edinburgh airport parking lot this past Friday, I once again found myself tense from head to toe as we entered and exited the famous European round-a-bouts with little finesse and great concentration.
“The second exit!” I would count out loud as he aimed the car for the third, all the while wanting to pull the wheel more to the right and go against the flow.
We passed exits I had driven past little more than a year ago and the sights and smells of the Scottish hills lit me on fire with memories and pleasure. I told him about my recent visit to St. Andrew’s — our first destination — and how the only point was to pick up a souvenir for my golf-loving then-boyfriend. I told him about how my aunt went to University there and how the only café we made it to was Costa — the European Waves coffee shop — because the rain was so bad.
For a charismatic man, my husband has very little enthusiasm and quite well-hidden excitement — much the opposite of myself who at every twist and turn vigorously ooh’s and ahh’s at everything from sheep to stones.
“I feel bad,” he always says, “I’m looking forward to it, I’m just not excited like you are.”
In this particular instance, however, he practically vibrated in his seat as the European pop-dance music bounced through our rented Ford speakers. Ten years ago, St. Andrews was his home. Never one to romanticize the past, I could tell that this circumstance was different. Much like my brief affair with Disney World, the experience of living far away from home for the first time inspired him and I couldn’t help but be excited to see his version of St. Andrews — though I was just there 13 months before and I knew his tour would mostly consist of taverns and greens.
We walked along the waterfront, me encouraging him to use a tour guide voice and make up facts, he obliging me, telling me tales that I will believe whole-heartedly without reading the plaques. We walked amongst tombstones and broken cathedral walls, amongst castle remains and the fairest fairway of them all and when we were satisfied with the town, he pointed to a gorgeous resort on the top of a nearby hill and said “that, right there, is the Bay.”
Up we went, to his former place of employment. He led me through the golden doors like a true concierge and I let him have his moment of awe as he recognized things that were the same and things that were most certainly different.
Moments later we were in conversation with the woman who had hired him 12 years ago, now the head of guest services.
“You know you always have a job waiting for you,” she said as we parted and I could tell he was reeling at the opportunity.
“I’d live here, you know that,” I said to him.
Part of being a creative is being a romantic. Not always in the truest sense of the genre, but in the ability to remember the past as worth remembering, not just for what it was. Call it nostalgia, call it memory, call it naiveté, but in sharing with me this part of his past, I knew for the first time in our short relationship he understood why every weekend I curl up and reach back into my memory bank to write this column. Why I have books and books of journal entries and chapters upon chapters of un-submitted manuscripts.
When you share something of great personal importance with others, you open the door to not only being understood, but to creating a world in which we are all connected.
— Andria Parker is an Instagram-obsessed idealist with at least 600 words to share on every topic, ever.