Way back in September I went on a little trip to Scotland and France. I still haven’t posted any pictures from that trip since I’m still posting pictures from my trips in August (and leaving out a lot!)
The purpose of this trip with my mother was about relaxation and spending time together, but it was also about visiting my origins.
When I got off the plane in Edinburgh after spending the last two hours with the entire Series A Viadana rugby team *bites knuckle* I knew my mom would find it hard to convince me that I would “find the Scottish men attractive, too!”
This was a past counterargument of hers when I proclaimed my infallible preference for dark-haired men, because my mother loves all of her roots – her Scottish roots, her French, her German and her Swiss roots, as she’s equally 25% of each. She’s a big genealogy buff, and has spent years tracing our origins, and wanted to share that with me in a more concrete way.
So we headed directly for the town of Peebles, about 45 minutes outside Edinburgh, where my Scottish relatives, the Cairns and Hislop families were from.
It’s interesting to look around at a place and try to sense what inspired / motivated / galvanized my nomadic ancestors into action.
My ancestors actually left Scotland twice – once in the 1880s to Ontario, Canada, where my great-great grandmother got married 125 years ago today. In the 1890s they moved back to Scotland to care for my great-great-great grandmother. They then moved again in the early 1900s, they did the Ellis Island trek, this time from Scotland to Massachusetts. A few years later, they moved to Michigan.
Do you feel a nomad vibe yet?
This nomadic trait is very evident in my mother, who moved from Michigan at 19 to join her soon-to-be husband in California. She’s picked up and moved since, and now lives in New Mexico.
I have done at least three big moves in my life – the first being from California to Texas upon high school graduation at 17, not knowing a soul for hundreds of miles but my rodeo’ing roommate who sent me a picture of herself in an introductory letter earlier that summer. We are still friends to this day, and in an interesting twist, she has just recently enrolled in culinary school in Austin.
My second big move was after graduation and moving back to California. Though my parents and some of my relatives still lived in the Bay Area, I was moving to a completely new area alone (not my hometown) and I had very few friends still in the Bay Area.
Of course, my third big move was to Italy. Again, armed with a few crib notes from random talks with Italians or people who had friends that lived there, but no real reason or anchor, I moved here.
So, I tried to absorb as much as I could of this Peebles. Why did they leave? What made them different?
Was it the blue window in this house?
That made them hope for something different? Something more? To be daring?
Maybe If I understood this, I could more fully understand myself.
Was it the wide open spaces that seemed to let their minds wander as free as could be but in no concrete direction? Perhaps they craved some constraints? Some chaos? confusion? (PS: The two orange cones in this pic are an ironic footnote)
Even the Peebles Old Parish church, still being constructed when they left Scotland in the 1880s, was completely new to them when they moved back to Scotland in the 1890s. Did they consider that one day Peebles, so important in the wool trade for decades, would turn into a tourist attraction and commuter town?
My mother and I finished the afternoon in a pub, talking about our ancestors and looking at pictures she had brought along for this reason. Looking at the faces in these pictures, long before the smile became the uniform of happiness, I try to gauge a glimpse of their emotions.
Maybe I could attribute my own motivation for exploring and moving around to one of these somber faces.
I even took the plunge and ordered haggis, because who could go to Scotland and not try haggis? And I have to say…
…I liked it! Maybe I got a “good” batch, and yes the whiskey cream sauce helped, but I think if I hadn’t thought I would hate it, I probably would have liked it even more. But if you remember from my trip to Berlin, I’m a sausage fan – grind up some mystery meat well with spices, and I’ll try it.
So, haggis is checked off my list. I may even seek it out next time. Hopefully I’ll be able to see Peebles twice in my lifetime, like my ancestors.
Has your family been nomadic, too? Do you know anyone that lives in the house they were born in, or that lives in a house in their family for years?