Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Today I am headed to Scotland to begin University. The trip has already started off a bit rough with out flight from Kansas City to Newark delayed for nearly two hours! We already will have to rebook in Newark because our flight to Edinburgh leaves before we will arrive. Fucking. International. Travel.
Just a bit about myself. My name is Kennedy. I am eighteen years old. Currently I am traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland to start my first year at the University of Edinburgh for History and Archaeology.
I really want to become a medieval archaeologist working mainly in Scotland and England. I have a special interest in late Rome/Early Middle Ages, also the High Middle Ages (Hundred Years War). Ideally, I will be working on digs during the summer and have either a professorship or a fellowship at a University. I know that I will need to have a phD in my field if I ever want to be competitive – and for the type of person that I am, being competitive in my field is a must.
I am not traveling halfway across the world to be mediocre.
Of course, I have been forced to make sacrifices to achieve this. I am leaving behind a lot of amazing friends. This summer was honestly so fun and I really got close to a lot of people that I hope to remain in touch with. Of course, I will hope to make new friends in Scotland… assuming of course that I make the flight in Newark. We land at 8 and our flight leaves two terminals over at 8.10. It is nice though to finally be heading to Scotland.
I’ve been waiting for this for a really long time. I’ve learned as much as I could in Lawrence, and it was time to move on. You can’t spend your whole in one place and you can’t spend your life in regret. I’ve learned this all too well. That is what I hope for Edinburgh – to live there for next plus years without regret. I know this is probably too much to ask, but fingers crossed.
The movers arrived Friday, 2 August to pack up my life in Edinburgh and move it to Lawrence. Four years of my life packed and boxed in less than an hour. It’s taken me nearly a month to write this post. But, as I have my Masters orientation tomorrow, I figured I’d finally attempt to finish it.
During the packing process, I found an old journal I bought before leaving Lawrence back in 2015. It fell forgotten between my bed and my bookshelves for the past three years, so I never filled it out except for the first few pages which I transcribed above, faithful to the original. If I’m going to be honest, ‘eighteen-year-old Kenn’ seems absolutely terrifying. I can only hope that I’ve chilled out.
But, I’m glad to see that after four years I didn’t fully ‘travel halfway across the world to be mediocre.‘ I did graduate with a First after all and have a Masters program to do. But, sadly(?), happily(?) I’m still on that ‘unending quest often satisfied but never for long‘ my high school English teacher wished upon me. It was a quest tucked inside an old copy of Selected Poems by H.D. that I have kept with me these past four years and probably will for the rest of my life.
Once again, in spite of my desire to fulfill that quest – to do what I need to find my place, my home, my heart… I find myself in the same position as I did four years ago, leaving those closest to me and a part of myself an ocean away.
I said goodbye to Caitlin and Ellie and Sophie and Tay at the beginning of the month. All four of them are off to do great things and I can’t wait to see what they all do next. On August 8th, Ellie and I went to the Florence + the Machine concert in Princes Street Gardens and managed to elbow our way to the front row. I stood outside in a thunderstorm for an hour and half to get those spots but considering how much her music means to me … worth. it.
I spent August 9th, my last day in Edinburgh, tidying my room and getting coffee at Black Medicine. I knitted a scarf. Then I walked along the Crags to look out across my city one last time. I owe so much to this city.
I said goodbye to Gregor that night and that was very hard. Gregor was among the first friends I made at university and I am so grateful he was there to help out a wayward Kansan learn how to climb mountains. I’ve never had the experience of having an older sibling, but having Gregor is my life is perhaps the closest I’ll get to having an older brother. He’s supportive but also calls me out on my bullshit.
That sentiment can also be said for my Norwegians, Tuva and Erling. (I would gust more about you guys but you got a whole three paragraphs last post!) We became a family in those three years.
Alven went to the airport with me on the morning of August 10th to help me manage the absolute unit of baggage I checked to help me survive the month before the rest of my belongings are shipped. I said goodbye to him at the security gate to which he replied, ‘I won’t miss you.’
Lies. Blatant lies.
Over the past four years, I’ve changed my hair colour, swapped my glasses, gotten four tattoos, and cut my fringe back four times before I instructed Erling to hold an intervention if I ever attempted a fifth time. I’m not going to attempt to discuss everything that happened these four years because you if you want to read that then just read my blog ???
Either way – I do believe I have come closer to finding the person I want to be, the person I need to be. And, I owe it to Scotland.
I lost her a few times, but she always crept back up on me … eventually.
I have tried to put into words just what Scotland means to me and every time I fall short. (Which is why this post is so late.) Sometimes, I think I finally understand. But, just like the mists wrapping its way through the twisty-wisty stress of Edinburgh, the feeling is there and then it is gone again. The closest I think I ever came was the jumbled mess of stream of conscious prose I wrote in my private diary last September prior to the beginning of my final year:
Wednesday, 12 September 2018 – 1.30 am
I suppose now is as good of time to start writing in this book. I received it for Christmas nearly 2 years ago but found it to beautiful for just any mundane story. So it sat on the bookshelf – until now, I guess. Because if not now, when?
Just to state for the historical record, my name is Kennedy. I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to attend the University of Edinburgh. I study History and Archaeology. This is the beginning of my final year.
I suppose what led me to begin writing at this time was the realisation I had returning to Edinburgh this weekend.
I set out to study the past – history. To make connections to places and people. I was never a lonely child but I often found myself amongst the company of books or those much older than myself. I often understood but found communicating difficult. I have always been much more at home by myself – until I realised the connections I had so deeply desired had finally manifested themselves in the way of incredible friends and companions, many of whom I dread to see the day we part ways.
I guess then, what the sudden urge to write this morning means then is that I’ve found it.
My peers no longer stare at me as if I’m some sort of Professor’s Frankenstein. The desire to connect through history was only a mask used to hide my true fears of loneliness…
It’s not that I no longer wish to be an archaeologist – it is more that I am no longer seeking something which I do not possess. The past has bewitched me – make no mistake – but…
Now, when I see castles and ruins I see both those from the past and my smiling companions in the present. I see people who genuinely care and understand me.
And, maybe that’s what I’ve always wanted to find? But only through returning to the past did I discover what laid ahead?
I owe everything to Scotland (~ad caledonia~). To the degree I earned. To the books I read. To the person I became. To the friends I made along the way.
I am heartbroken, but they are the reason I can return to America. They are the reason I am beyond excited for my Masters and the future opportunities ahead. At the moment I have 1) a pretty cool part-time job, 2) two new St Bernard puppies, and 3) an upcoming hog roast where my parents plan to dig a hole and set fire to a whole fucking pig in the front yard, you know, like they do in Hawaii. In the future? I want be a part of something bigger than myself, give back, help others, and tell stories.
If you haven’t learned this by now, I’m a bit of a sentimental shite. I keep every letter ever written to me including one my dad wrote to me when I went to summer camp when I was 11. It was a pretty basic letter but did include the line, ‘come home with great stories!’
So, my lovely, lovely, dearest, darling, sweet princess angel, Edinburgh, here’s to you.
To the cobbled closes of Edinburgh and laying in the sunny Meadows. To the green mists of Glen Coe, the saw-toothed ridges of Liathach, and the pink hued sunset beaches on Skye. To getting drinking whisky and singing off-key in Kintail. To ceilidh dancing under the stars or watching the crashing waves in Shetland. To an underground Parisian jazz bar, cinnamon rolls in Oslo, or meeting Bacchus incarnate in Berlin. To a Neolithic settlement along the Danube, an ancient Roman trade city south of Pompeii, a medieval kirkyard, a towering Northumbrian castle, and a 18th century gardener’s cottage. And finally, to the towering red sandstone tenement I was so unbelievably lucky to be able to call home.
Thank you for my four years in Faerieland. Thank you for the lessons and the stories. Thank you for my international family. Thank you for me.
With tolerance and love,
2 thoughts on “ad caledonia”
Ah such a beautiful story!! Love you kiddo
I know your heart is in Scotland, but I’m so happy to have you home for, at least, awhile. Plus, you’ll need to move back in a few years, because I’m really going to miss going to Edinburgh! Love, Padre