Monday, April 4, 2011

Somewhere Else

Somewhere Else

It is a stretch of highway best navigated with brain cells made nimble by an over abundance of caffeine. Coffee or tea, it doesn’t matter, just as long those synapses required for snap decisions and fluidity of thought have been adequately electrified by the elixir known through the ages to pierce the torpidity of morning and render the dullard awake. Seven lanes, sometimes more, teeming with cars that zip right along at exorbitant speeds, bobbing and weaving like a school of piranha - it is a thoroughfare for which the timid of heart are most certainly unsuited. I learned to drive on this road and I suppose it is a testament to my unflappability that I continue to travel it on a regular basis, my speedometer registering numbers compatible with those on either side of my little green car. But, ever since my last trip to Scotland, I never travel it alone. There is a face that pops into the front of my mind, without fail, at a certain bend in the road.

I first encountered this face in a small coastal village in Aryshire. We had entered Ballantrae still bedazzled from a stormy night spent in a castle of storybook proportions. An early morning sun bounced off the waves in the Irish Sea, reflecting the gauzy colours of Easter over the lane of white buildings hugging the shore. Soft pinks, warm golds - the tiny village shimmered like a dreamscape. Even the cemetery looked inviting. We got out of the car, lifted our faces to the sun and the spray, trying to breathe it all in. As I had letters to mail, I popped into the village store and made my way back to the post office window where I was greeted by a handsome young man with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy at his side. Of course, I can never resist a large-pawed puppy, so the fellow and I were soon conversing like old familiar friends instead of what we actually were, strangers. He noticed my accent.. (accent?) and asked where I was from. When I told him, he broke into a grin and told me he absolutely loved my town - loved the restaurants, loved the stores, and particularly loved to drive the highways. Incredulous, I told him I doubted that he actually knew what the highways were like and mentioned the highway I spoke of above. “Oh, I love that stretch of road.”, he exclaimed and proceeded to provide an accurate description of every exit, every bend. “Ah, I love to be in the sixth lane with my exit comin’ up and know I have to get all the way over in a matter of seconds! It’s so excitin’! I’d just love to live there. You don’t know how lucky you are!” I shook my head in utter bafflement and said.. “But you live in paradise!”
“Ah. It’s boring”, he replied.

Dumbstruck, I left the shop and stood outside in that beautiful lane and wondered why we humans always seem to want what we don’t have. I have straight hair, and have always wished for curly. The dancer wants to sing, the painter wants to dance. The one who lives on the mountainside longs for a week by the sea. I wish every day to be on a hillside in Scotland, but in one of the most picturesque spots in that country lives a man who’d change places with me in a heartbeat.

I always regard this vague longing as a strictly human malady, for I cannot imagine Edward wishing to be anywhere other than by my side. But on a morning last week, I was traveling this notable highway and looked up to see a pair of Canada Geese flying low above the rushing river of cars. Just two of them, so far, far away from where they should be. And I wondered. Perhaps we poor humans are not the only ones occasionally afflicted with this vague longing for another place, another life.
Does the lion have dreams of the city, the mountain goat long for shore?


  1. Of course as a Scot he wouldn't be very far from reminders of home if you did change places. The highway he knew so well wouldn't happen to be the one that runs down towards Stone Mountain and its eponymous highland games ?

  2. It is longing that keeps us alive.

  3. Theologically speaking, I believe we humans are always wanting something else because we're strangers here on Earth but looking toward Heaven. That's why we always want to be someplace else. My theory anyway... I'm with you; give me a scottish hillside any day of the week.

  4. 'tis the fickle nature of the human being to long for the greener grass!

  5. Yes...longing is pushing the boundaries with imagination. And I am thinking of mountains. Right now.

  6. Restless, we are. You say it so well.

  7. Hi Pamela
    Your post makes me think of Robert Frost...

    "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference."

    Here is to the roads we travel and the ones that still lay ahead of us...may they always continue to 'make all the difference' in our lives.

    Thought of you as we wandered Hampton Court Palace gardens today :)

    Jeanne xxx

    PS...Major tissue box activity the other night over Monarch of the Glen...sigh, Hector....

  8. This dullard is trying to render herself awake this very moment by drinking her morning elixer in the hopes of being electrified for the day (you are so brilliant Pamela)...not for any navigation purposes, just to be able to function at a desired level of competency!
    Your experience meeting someone so far away who knew a part of your world so intimately amazed me, it is a small world after all!

    When I moved to the PNW, I felt that God placed me in paradise and I've not wanted to live anywhere else since. Visit other paradises for long periods...yes, live no. I love it here.
    Have a beautiful weekend...
    xo J~

  9. I've been living here for quite a while and love it here. I do occasionally get the urge to go somewhere else just for a visit especially the ocean where I grew up, but for the most part I am content, and especially when I put a canoe in the water. I find it sad that so many are not happy with their surroundings. Discontent is so bad for our health.

  10. Well this old goat is dreaming of NYC and I am so bored with my beautiful town and shoreline. I need a break.. Great writing I loved every bit of your story..

  11. A change is as good as a holiday I always say, and from happy experience I agree there's no better holiday than Scotland. The grass is definitely greener there than in Australia, but we do beat them on the sunshine count! Difficult to long for those parts of the world for Aussies so far "down under"- guess the next best thing is New Zealand. Restless people are a travel agents dream!

  12. Oh Pamela I think of this fact all too often. Why do we long for greener pastures when often what we have is what others long for? It's like leaving the sun and warmth of Texas to want to go live in Scotland. But at least I am not alone in this desire. Such another of your amazing posts, I really enjoyed.

    All my best to you all ~ Deb

  13. Pamela the discourse is wonderful. We all wonder, can we be more, do more, what lies ahead and sometimes, what if. I don't want to die with many what ifs....

    Art by Karena

  14. I often think I would like to live by the sea. The farmer never has the slightest desire to live anywhere but where we live now. Maybe I would change my mind if I were to be offered the chance to live by the sea. I suppose it is this wanderlust that has kept us all going over the centuries.

  15. I think all of us long for something different and sometimes when we keep reaching for the different, it reminds us how much we love what we have. I often watch the geese and the ducks outside of my window and wonder - do they dream? do they long for something more? Perhaps, as you say, they do... but they always come back. I sometimes wonder if I will always come back. Wonderful post dear Pamela x

  16. It's like you've read my thoughts, Pamela. I've been restless all weekend, thinking of other places where I'd rather be.

  17. When the day is shining yellow and I am feeling at peace with the world, I sometimes have to touch something solid and say 'I am really happy right here and now' just to remind myself that I really am, as I think part of our make up is to look for that glistening green grass the other side of the fence.

    I love the thought about the dancer who wants to sing, even though it makes me somehow sad, as does the idea of the Canada Geese searching for their own place in the world. It's a yearning for something undefined, which means it could always be around the next corner, so onwards we look... :)

  18. I'm swigging 'the elixir' this morning while looking out at the utterly beautiful Spring garden after last night's rain. The grass is the greenest ever, the red maple burning bright even though there's no sun, the lime green Japanese maple dripping droplets like diamonds on its fluffy leaves. The double narcissi perfume the damp air, and robins wander around stopping to listen for worms. Yes, it's where I'm totally happy being right not wishing to be anywhere else today. Of course knowing I'll be going to my true home in just a month helps.....I do still get homesick!

    Pamela - I'll be thinking of you as I traipse along the Lakes, and cross the border into your beloved Scotland!

    Happy week - hope the storms weren't damaging in your area last night.

    P.S. But......I wish I had curly hair!

  19. It is daily that I wish to be at the seaside, either England or Scotland. I miss it so very much, and living on the Candian prairies, my heart just aches at the thoughts of the beautiful scenery, the smells of the sea. I wish for it daily, restless is my soul! I would move in a heartbeat, or sooner!



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