“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela
While this quote generally refers to returning to an unchanged physical location, I think it can also apply to returning to an unchanged situation or relationship.
This past week, my family (which consists of my parents, my 18 year old brother named Jared, and my 13 year old sister named Darcy) came to visit me in Scotland. I made the decision to surprise them at the airport even though their flight was scheduled to land at 6:35 am. I pulled myself out of bed around 5:30 am, walked to the Waverley bus station, and took the shuttle to the airport, where I eagerly awaited their arrival. A shortage in gate availability led to a delay in their exodus from the plane, leaving me standing by the international arrivals gate for nearly an hour. During this time I felt so many emotions – excited, impatient, exhausted, and oddly enough, anxious. This baffled me because I was moments away from being reunited with people I had literally spent my entire life with – what was there to be nervous about? Was I concerned that they had changed? Was I concerned I had changed? Was I afraid they wouldn’t appreciate Scotland as much as I do? There’s no real way to know exactly what caused these feelings, but the moment my family emerged from the arrival doors, all the nerves melted away. My sister ran into my arms and my mom gave my dad a look and said “did you know she was going to be here?” to which he replied with a confident nod.
My family had visited the United Kingdom before, but had never crossed the border into Scotland, so I was excited to show them all around the city I have fallen in love with. It’s an odd perspective trying to take a step back and show them all the things that have come so familiar to me, like the coffee shops I visit on a daily basis, and the Royal mile as well. We even got a bunch of laughs from the employees who helped us try on matching kilts.
My father was brave enough to rent a car that had both manual transmission and the opposite orientation of what we we’re used to. Thanks to that, we were able to visit parts of the UK I may have never gotten to on my own. A personal favorite was Alnwick Castle, located in Northumberland and home to where Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s first flying lessons were filmed in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. There, we were able to get flying lessons of our own, interact with Professor Dumbledore, Harry, and even a handful of Ron Weasley’s cousins!
There’s nothing quite like spending time with family after a long time apart. When you’re together for extended periods of time, it is natural for fights to break out and disagreements to take over. But when its been a few months and you know you only have a week together, everyone brings only their positive qualities to the table. It’s an incredible feeling that I could go a few months without seeing these people, but still feel 100% comfortable with them upon reuniting. I loved having my family here in Scotland for a week, and I know they did too.