“It’s a bit odd isn’t it?”
I looked up from my Kindle to see the old man across the table eying me. He’s hunkered over a pint of some sort of Scottish ale. He’s obviously had a few though cause his left eye keeps blinking, as if I’m not entirely in focus.
“Excuse me?” I say, wanting to get back to my own pint and food before heading to one of the shows that night in Edinburgh.
“It’s a bit odd to see a young lass in a pub alone. Are you waiting for your boyfriend?”
Though he can’t see it, a shiver of fire runs up my spine. But because my mother taught me manners and I’ve learned to control my temper, I simply give him a small smile and shake my head. “Oh no, it’s just me. I’m heading to a play tonight.”
He still doesn’t seem to understand. And until I pay my bill, in between talking to his friend, he continues to shoot me glances. It’s like a puzzle that he doesn’t comprehend. It’s as if I’m some mystical creature that has never existed before – a young woman who did what she wanted all on her own. Without a husband. Without a boyfriend. Without anyone but herself.
And I hate that days later, it was that same question that constantly repeated in my head. Was it what everyone was thinking? Was I truly odd? Sure, it has been an adjustment to be totally on my own in all these foreign settings. And there were plenty who questioned my choice.
Some who said I was irresponsible (to do what I wanted isn’t responsible? Wasn’t this my own life?)
Couldn’t I wait on someone to go with me (because I should depend on someone else’s whims to see the world?)
It’s not safe (would you say this to me if I were a man?)
But if there’s one thing that I have learned through all my loss. If you want to do something, if you want to see a place, then you use your own two feet. There are excuses that people will want you to subscribe to but, at the end of the day, if you want to do the thing, than you DO THE THING.
So, if that makes me odd in the eyes of judgmental people than I guess I am odd. I’m odd that I wanted to see the Scottish Highlands. I’m strange that I would walk 30 minutes to the city center in Edinburgh because I like the architecture – that I completely understand how this town inspired JK Rowling to create Harry Potter. I’m weird that I want to sit in a pub, reading a book and drinking a local ale.
I guess that’s the magic of Scotland. It reinforces what I already know. That there are very few things that I would give up my individuality and independence for and there’s no such place as Edinburgh to live that ideal. I’ve already decided that I want to come back because there’s something magical about this part of the world – the mist itself seems to conjure up fairy tales and folklore. It deserves more of my time. Honestly, it deserves a little of all our time. Because everyone needs a little magic. (But next time, I’ll remember a rain jacket and some boots.)