A friend died recently. She was my writing teacher first (and my first writing teacher).
I can trace roads from everything I’ve had published in the last two years to Helen, her guidance at every way-marker. Even with this map I’m disorientated; floundering in comprehending such a special woman being gone.
In grief, all roads lead inevitably to my Mum. Every funeral a little her funeral, too. Profound losses only comforted by the extreme gratitude for having shared some of the world with extraordinary people’s smiles and stories.
Joy and sorrow, innit?
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We saw Collateral Beauty. The film whisked me back ten years to a hell of a week. Mum had been admitted to hospital in Aberdeen with a DVT. My son had his sixth birthday party. I hadn’t organised a thing for Halloween.
The morning after cobbled together trick or treating, Mum called from hospital and gently explained she had terminal cancer.
The world stopped as grief started.
Who I’d been until then died with her and (slowly, painfully) a new gratitude for life was born. Heather 2.0. An unwanted, bittersweet fresh start.
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When the bloke I fancied told me he lived on a west coast island and ‘commuted’ to Aberdeen for work, I pictured Father Ted’s Manse and grimaced.
‘How can you bear it?’, I’d asked. ‘The flatness? The wind?’
He looked like I’d spoken in Spaniel. The following week I understood.
Sapphire sea in a white sand bay. The perfect cottage.
Mountains, seals, dolphins.
Sunsets, the Milky Way, mornings to make you feel reborn.
Him, in an Acid Croft T-shirt.
‘What about the commute though?’, I’d asked.
He put on Shooglenifity and drove.
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I’m thinking a LOT about self sabotage.
I’m thinking about how I’ve elaborately protected myself from failure by subtlely self- sabotaging goals to such an extent that, it seemed, they just weren’t meant to be.
I guess it’s my age. I’ll be 39 tomorrow. If I’m lucky I’m a little under the halfway point in my life. I have some big dreams to make come true between here and the elegant in repose (with CostCo truffles) death-bed scene. So I have to be really honest with myself.
What are the blocks?
I’ve been wandering in Leith and reading about its heritage in flour mills, biscuit baking, ship building and wine imports.
More ominously, I’ve discovered that the current construction site at Shrubhill, just off Leith Walk, is where people (including many a witch) were publicly executed in the 17th century.
The spot was far enough from old Edinburgh to be deemed appropriate and close enough to the capital and Leith to be considered a decent walk with built-in entertainment, if you were that way inclined. There’s more fantastic information about it here.
When we decided we were moving to Edinburgh we heard a lot about how there are so many people and the city is so vast.
I looked at maps, comparing Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Not an awful lot in it, to my eye.
More people though? Yes.
So more stories, too.
You get to know the tide-tables of the crowds.
Great coffee and cocktail spots get booked in advance. Phone ahead.
Art galleries and museums are heaven when everyone else is Christmas shopping.
The Pentlands during office hours are all yours.
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