I’ve been living in Edinburgh for two weeks now, after spending most of the last year living in the south of Spain. It’s not a completely unfamiliar place for me to move to, I used to live here in 2013 and 2014. This time though, I’ve moved under very different circumstances, returning to join a fiancé that I definitely didn’t have the last time I was here. Friends have left. Groups have changed. I’m living in an area I barely spent any time in before, and it’s familiar and completely different at the same time. These musings were written in my first few days living in Edinburgh…
My skin feels drier. The air is palpably different, although I couldn’t tell you how. I think I’ve forgotten Spanish already, although it’s only been a day.
Edinburgh is like another lifetime in another world.
It’s grey, but not depressing. The blue sky peeks through the clouds, the chimney stacks of old buildings reach to meet it. I spot Arthur’s Seat in the distance through the bare branches of trees that tell me I’ve definitely gone back in seasons from the already burgeoning summer in Spain to what feels like the middle of winter. I smile involuntarily. HOME. The word beats through me. It feels like it, not completely yet, but know it will.
The wind blows unseen raindrops that nip at my cheeks. I duck my head and continue on, hands buried deep in my coat pockets to combat the cold. A coat I had tailored in Vietnam, on my way to moving to Edinburgh the first time. I’ve really only ever worn it here.
Two women nudge past me along the footpath, pushing buggies and chattering in Spanish. I only notice the language is foreign when one of them says sorry in English as I move to the side to let them through.
Tesco is like a beacon of light against the grey of the surroundings. Exploring supermarkets in new places is one of my favourite past times, and shopping for old favourites when I visit former homes. The prices here shock me for a moment. I’m not in Spain anymore. And I’m unemployed. Still, I buy familiar things and think about how I’ll miss my favourites in Spain now. Food is a huge part of a culture for me.
Speaking in English at the checkout is strange. That will fade quickly I guess. I’m afraid a year of learning Spanish will be undone all too easily.
When I leave the supermarket I look the wrong way when I cross the street. In that moment I realise how much I have to get used to again. But I tell myself I’m ready for it. For this life and for Edinburgh to be my home.
I take a bus into Edinburgh’s city centre the next day. The first time I took a bus in Edinburgh it had tartan covered seats and I remember thinking how typically Scottish it was. That day I went to the Elephant Cafe, famous as a location that J K Rowling wrote some of Harry Potter in, and I walked up to Edinburgh Castle. I ate scones and drank tea and marvelled at realising a dream of living in Edinburgh. I was excited at having just moved to a city with so much culture and history. New Zealand is just a baby in comparison. Just over four years later and this bus is much newer. Tartan is no longer the fabric of choice for Lothian Buses it seems.
Being back in a city I know so well but in circumstances that are so unfamiliar is strange. I don’t wish for a repeat of the past. I’m happy. But settling in may take longer than I like. I’m renewing my relationship with Edinburgh. We’re getting used to each other again. Finding our rhythm.
I had a blog before this one, that covered the two years when I lived in Edinburgh before and after living here for one month I wrote:
“I get the feeling this is the kind of place that gets under your skin, that you might not realise how much you like it until you leave, and then you miss it with more feeling than you thought.”
It turned out to be not quite true. I realised how much I liked Edinburgh, and I missed it just as much as I thought I would. But it definitely got under my skin.
Edinburgh, I’m home.