I was thinking on how to begin this. Where should I start? But then again, I believe that when you fall in love with someone or with something (or anything actually), you don’t really know exactly why or how it happened. Sometimes you can trace it back and connect it to a special moment, to a specific situation. But most of the times (or at least in my case), I can’t grab it. It just happens, and the more I try to think of an explanation or a reason, the more I feel it doesn’t have one. Sometimes, feelings just need to be felt, not thought.
Glasgow just makes sense in my head. I could list all the things that made me fall in love with this city and with Scotland, but that wouldn’t be enough. I don’t think I can make you feel what I felt when I was there. How much I’m longing to feel that way again. But I’m gonna try to do it anyway because that’s what I do: I talk and talk infinitely about Glasgow and Scotland. That’s what you do when you fall in love.
I must say it wasn’t love at first sight AT ALL. The day my plane landed in that beautiful piece of earth, it was raining. With time I would learn that the only way to love Glasgow is to not care about the rain. But I hated the rain. I hated the cold weather. And yet there I was, in one of the rainiest places in the world. That first day I also happened to walk for 30 minutes (which by then was a lot for the old Sammy) just to get to a proper supermarket (yep, Tesco!), and on our way we crossed the breath-taking Botanic Gardens. The more I think about that first walk, the more I realize how blind I was before: I knew it was beautiful, but I wasn’t paying enough attention to it.
It was a matter of time. Slowly, very slowly, I started looking at the city and feeling it in a new way, from a new perspective. The more I was there, the more I learned about it. The more I travelled and saw Scotland, the more I fell in love with it. With the green, with the mountains, with the buildings, with the West End, with the City Centre, with the street musicians in Buchanan Street, with the huge parks, with the cafes and the bars and pubs and yes, even with the rain and the wind and the few rays of sunshine that appeared from time to time.
I also fell in love with the people, with the so well-known Glaswegians and the welcoming Highlanders. With Scottish people. The ones that say “sori” – with a very special accent by the way – and almost hug you when they hit you with a bag in the middle of the street; the ones who talk to you at the bar if you’re alone, the ones who smile to you even when they don’t know you. The ones who don’t really care about the fact that you’re not from there, unless they want to compliment your good English or ask you about “chili.” There’s no memory in my head of a Scottish person treating me badly. All I can remember is friendliness, hospitality and smiles.
I visited many places during my time there, but not as many as I wish I had. Scotland is nature everywhere you go, and I was constantly in a state of awe. Nature showed me a side of myself I didn’t know; nature healed me, in a way. The Glencoe Mountains, the immensity of Loch Lomond, the colourful Ness Islands, the constant flow of the River Ness, the green little hills of the Fairy Glens, the greatness of the Old Man of Storr. I can’t list them all, but my memory is full of them. Those moments in which nature made me feel small, tiny, and at peace with myself and with what was around me. Moments and places that silenced my mind and taught me to accept myself.
I guess that the real reason why I fell in love with Scotland, if I had to choose one, is because of the way it made me feel. I had been looking, waiting for that feeling for 21 years. It is a feeling I swear I can’t describe, but that I guess is quite close to feeling complete: when you feel that you are finally right where you’re meant to be.
How could I not to fall in love with that?