Travels Without Miranda, #10: Melrose, Scotland

My month’s journey backpacking around Scotland taught me that there is no reason why I can’t have something I really, really want. I woke up one November morning in 1997 and announced that I was going to Scotland the following summer. I spent six months saving up, and even losing a month’s income to the Ice Storm of ’98 didn’t deter me from my goal.

The most amazing month of my life was drawing to a close when I landed at the youth hostel in Melrose. It was a grand old Victorian house, but it was for the abbey I had come. My month had been one of following the steps of Scotland’s hero William Wallace and one of her kings, Robert the Bruce, and it was at Melrose Abbey that Bruce’s heart was buried.

Melrose youth hostel

Melrose youth hostel

There wasn’t much left to my trip, just a few days. I was due back at work in a week. I was heartsick to be giving up my travels, but excited that my life was about to begin. I was starting university in the fall and would move out on my own, events that made it a little easier to say goodbye to Scotland.

My last night in Melrose I sat on a bench watching the sunset behind the abbey ruins. It is one of those moments of my life that I remember with shattering clarity. It was a perfect moment in time when I knew that I was at the right place and that everything in my life was exactly as it should be. I was flooded with a feeling of peace and well-being and rose from that bench clearheaded and ready to face whatever the future had in stock for me.

Melrose Abbey. The Bench would be just offshot to the right.

Melrose Abbey. The Bench would be just offshot to the right.

It didn’t take long after that for my life to completely derail and I ended up spending the better part of a decade grasping for that perfect moment again.

While I’ve never had such a strong feeling of contentment since hitting the road with Miranda, I’ve had several glimpses of that peace I felt in Melrose. With that reference point in mind, I have been able to identify moments that are completely the opposite, when the universe is shouting at me to get out, to move on, that where I am is the wrongest place I can be. I haven’t shared the full story of what went on in Oliver, but I think that what I didn’t say in my announcement that I was leaving was pretty clear.

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  • […] have been a montage running backwards through the last seventeen years of my life ending with me sitting on a bench by Melrose Abbey in Scotland. The feeling was utter oneness with the universe and my place in it. Peace. A certainty that I am […]

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