July 4 & 5 – Where Any Two Roads Cross
Return to England
A gloomy morning – not only weather-wise – but I am stubborn in not allowing myself to give in to the sadness that is threatening to overtake me. Dana, Robin and I still have a day together, even if it will only be spent leaving behind this wonderful land that is so much a part of us. I vow to keep my chin up and make the best of it.
At breakfast we are joined by Brian and Joy, a couple from Adelaide, Australia. They have been in the UK for three weeks on holiday and have a week left. Brian amuses me as he launches into a critique of British drivers. "Crikey!" he exclaims. "You can't drive the speed limit, they'll run over you!" So it is with laughter and smiles that we finish our meal and, with some creativity, pack the trunk of the car with our many bags and bundles.
The drive west and then south is long and monotonous. We rush past rolling green hills topped with misty clouds. The longer we drive, the more introspective we become. The stillness in the car is broken by intermittently popping tapes into the player and chattering aimlessly about what we might expect to find at home on our returns. Laundry, we all agree. Laundry is not the forte of husbands and children.
Robin suggests that we make a list of all of the people we have met over the course of the past two weeks. I reach into my mutant purse from hell, which has served me well on this trip of a lifetime, and retrieve the little spiral-bound notebook in which I've been recording my thoughts.
This notebook has a small pocket in the front and I sit sorting through the miscellanea that has found its way there: a list of names and addresses for people to whom I sent postcards, the phone number I was to call at the bank in York to receive more information about my long lost ATM card, ticket stubs for Fountains Abbey, Stirling Castle and Guide Friday Edinburgh bus tour, a receipt for dinner at the Bon Accord Hotel in Melrose on June 28th (£27.55 for the three of us), and from Galashiels – tags from the sweater I purchased at LochCarron woolen mill, a flyer from Bubbles Laundrette listing their hours and prices, a business card from Tanith at Waverly Studios where I bought my new camera.
And then I unfold a small piece of lined yellow paper. Written on it is a quote from a book my daughter was reading the night before I left home. I had copied these words down the morning of my departure and carried them with me across the ocean. They'd been with me every day, everywhere I'd traveled, but had remained forgotten until this moment, winding our way through chill, misty Lanarkshire.
Two characters, in the fantastical children's book, Thunder Falls by Scott Ciencien, are on a quest. As they walk down a quiet road, one mentions to the other that in Scotland, where any two roads cross is believed to be a special place. Should one stand there at just the right time, they may be able to see into other worlds.
I swallow the lump in my throat as I read the words, forbidding myself to think back on the past two weeks and all of the places I have stood – where any two roads cross. I have found innumerable special places. I have seen into other worlds.
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