I awoke this morning in my pink room, saddened because this was the last morning I would awake in Scotland. Though I was never crazy about living in a pink room, I would live in a pink room with fluffy bunnies painted on the wall if it meant I could stay. I could hang some posters of swimsuit models on the wall or something to make it feel more masculine. I never really spent more than maybe an hour a day in there anyway other than sleeping, because I was always out experiencing the country.
I still had some packing to do, so I finished that up in about an hour, took a shower, and then headed on to meet the rest of the group. Not everyone was leaving with the group however. Chelsea was going to be heading off to other parts of Europe for a few weeks and Emily and Hannah were headed to the Isle of Skye and Ireland, and all three were spending more time in Edinburgh as well. I have to admit, I was (and still am) very jealous. I wasn’t ready to leave yet. The fact of the matter is though, the longer I stayed the harder it would be for me to leave.
Though I experienced and saw more of Scotland than one could hope for in three weeks, things still felt incomplete. There are numerous places in Scotland I still want to see, but there just wasn’t enough time. I do have the feeling that I SAW Scotland though, and was as immersed into Scottish culture as much as three weeks could possibly provide, so there are no regrets about how I spent my valuable time there.
I said goodbye to Chelsea, Emily, and Hannah, wished them a good extended journey, and then headed back onto the bus with the rest of the group to the airport. Our flight was delayed yet again, of course. Jennifer (birthday girl!), Cait, Kaitlin, and I had some lunch at one of the restaurants in the airport during the delay. Then after the long wait we finally boarded our flight.
One thing that sucked was we didn’t have the nifty touch screens where we could pick our own movies, games, music, shows, GPS navigator, and such, that we had on the flight over, and had to go with what the plane was showing. Plus, because of the wind drifts coming in the opposite direction, this flight was supposed to take over 8 hours, rather than the just over 6 we had on the way over. The captain assured us over the intercom that he was going to go extra fast and cut the time down. Yet another cool driver on the trip, but Jimmy was still the greatest. Jimmy would have gotten us there in an hour!
I watched “The Bucket List” which was a great movie. It is about two men (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who are about to die of cancer, and decide to do everything they have ever wanted to do in life before they “kick the bucket.” There were things about this movie that were extremely relevant to my recent adventures. One of the things I have always wanted to do in life was visit Scotland, so now I can check that off the list. However, as I said previously, now there are more places I have yet to visit in Scotland that have bulked up my list tremendously, so instead of limiting my list, it has increased.
I then did some reading of George MacDonald, a famous Scottish fantasy writer who was the main inspiration for Lewis and Tolkien and is said to be the father of modern fantasy literature, watched some shows, and did some crossword puzzles with Rebecca and Hayley before we landed in Newark.
Newark was a zoo. After going through customs we stood there waiting for our luggage for what seemed like forever. Every single person in our whole group got their luggage before I did and I was standing there wondering if it was ever going to come. Finally it did, and we headed over to a long ass line to recheck our bags again, which seemed like an unnecessary step to me because we didn’t have to do that on the way over.
We then had a mad scramble to our separate flights. Because of this, I didn’t get to say “goodbye” to everyone and we had to rush our separate ways. Many of us were almost late to ours and seemed to get there in the nick of time, to find out we were going to be sitting on the plane for two hours before takeoff.
After getting back to Atlanta, we were all very ready to get home. I still had my jacket on from wearing it the whole time in Scotland and even in New Jersey, but it was 80 degrees in Atlanta, even in the middle of the night, so it was time to retire the jacket until Fall.
When loading back on our coaches, I immediately wanted to target the lady in the coach that drove us over because I knew she would get us back in a timely manner. I got back to Chattanooga at 2 a.m. which was making excellent time.
Now that I am writing this after being home for over two weeks, the lands of Scotland are still tattooed on my heart, so they will be there forever. It is weird when you are home, yet you feel homesick for another place.
Part of the great thing about writing half of my journals after coming back to America was reliving the experience in my mind all over again. Honestly, now that these are journals are finished, I wish I still had many more to write. Fortunately I still have two weeks to work on the book!
I came back from Scotland a different person. Visiting somewhere on vacation is one thing, but being as immersed as I became with taking this class is another. I will be back to Scotland soon, and is my life’s goal to do so. I know Dr. Rushing and Dr. Bender have been approved for another class next summer, and though I am graduating, if there is any way I can make it I will be doing the class again, if I am not in Scotland already. I am working on moving to Scotland, and if I can pull it off and get a media job (which I am working on), I am gone.
One thing that I have noticed as a drastic change from before I left and after I returned is an increase in my appreciation of the beauties of nature. After being surrounded by a surreal natural beauty such as Scotland, it opens your eyes to everything around you. Chattanooga is a beautiful city, and I think I appreciate it more now after this trip. It is no Scotland by any means, but some of the areas surrounding the city do remind me slightly of things I saw in Scotland, though the colors are not as deep and vivid.
For instance, for my next column for the Times I went out on the lake in Soddy Daisy. The view out there was amazing, and made me feel a little bit better after having to come home, though it was still not as amazing as the views I had become accustom to in Scotland.
The Appalachian Mountains were also where the Scots-Irish came to settle, who became the ancestors of the “hillbillies” we know today. After being kicked out of the Highlands, then a brief stint in Ireland where they weren’t wanted either, they eventually settled there. There are some aspects of the Appalachians that could remind someone a bit about the Highlands, which is why they probably chose that area as their final settlement. I definitely plan on doing more traveling this summer around this area and other scenic areas in the states, which will hopefully satisfy some of my longing for Scotland before I am able to return.
A HUGE UPDATE!!!!!!! I just received a phone call this morning from the police in England and they found my Macbook, and they are shipping it back to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is wonderful news, as now I will be reunited with not only my laptop, but also with the research stored from prior to the trip and from during the trip, and all the pictures that were not able to be recovered from the first week of the trip. I am so pumped I am ready to do cartwheels and dance around the room. I feel like a little kid waiting for Christmas waiting for this package to arrive!
A problem with this book, however, is I think I may have gotten a bit overambitious with having a book completed in a month they way it needs to be. However, I will have it completed to an extent. I have all my sources (though more keep popping up!), and will have more when I am reunited with my Macbook, both on the computer and a book that was in the case. I have solid blueprint and much of it written already now, so it just a matter of getting the rest of it written in an interesting way. I am trying to incorporate a mix of fanciful travel writing, humor, and information, so we shall see if that mix works out the way I am hoping it will.
Much of the book is my personal experiences through Scotland doing travel writing, which I am pulling some from my journals (and stuff not in the journals as well), but much of the book is storytelling, mythology, legends, and folklore not included in the journals, and expanding on what is in the journals. After it is complete, it will still not feel complete because there are many other places I want to add, so when I go back to Scotland there will definitely be a second expanded edition. I have decided to not put things in chronological order, to help the flow of the book, but parts of it are chronological.
I hope maybe if things work out with this and I could get a publishing deal, I could keep writing books in this similar style traveling all over the world for a living (which would be absolutely awesome). I will be going to Italy, Greece, and Turkey in October, and plan on writing a second book about that as well, with a similar style. (For all that know me as “Joey,” Roman is my middle name and my professional writing name because basically, it sounds cooler.)
Here is my preliminary table of contents and working title (subject to change):
Roamin’ With Roman: The Quest Through Mythic Scotland
By Roman Flis
Chapter One: An Epic Journey into Scotland’s “Story”
The Ancient Celts
Scotland’s Supernatural Residents
Chapter Two: Edinburgh
The Storied Capital
Edinburgh = Jekyll and Hyde?
Chapter Three: The Lowlands
Teatime and Tombstones
Spooks in St. Andrews
The Gate to the Highlands
Chapter Four: The Highlands
Attack of the Killer Midges
The Little Bay
Tomnahurich and Nessie
The “Rabbit Hole”
Chapter Five: The Isle of Skye
Over the Bridge to the Skye
The King’s Port
A Meeting with the “Wee Folk”
The Flag of the Fairies
Chapter Six: Conclusion
Losing My Apples in England
Notes on Sources
Overall this experience in Scotland was amazing. I had sky-high expectations for this trip prior to leaving, and my experience there was above and beyond even my wildest expectations. Our group of adventurers was an exciting and fun mix of personalities, which made the experience even more enjoyable, and I miss them all. Our group got very close during the course of our three-week journey, and there are talks of a reunion because much of the group is spread out in different states. I will look forward to our reunion, where we can reminisce about our fond experiences, and even have a laugh at our misadventures.
As Dr. Rushing said, even the misadventures add to the richness of the story, and are a part of the experience as a whole that will be remembered forever. I agree 100%, though misadventures were few and far between because, for the most part, things ran pretty smoothly from what I could tell. Even my situation with losing my laptop in England adds some tang to my story even if I would not have (fortunately) found out it was found today, and it was all part of the adventure. As I said previously, it felt like I lost a part of my soul due to my writings and pictures of my first week in Scotland that could have been gone forever.
So to sum it all up in a single sentence: I left part of my heart in Scotland, part of my soul in England, and now that my soul is to be reunited, I hope now to soon reunite my heart by returning to my favorite place in the world.