In the summer of 2012, I took a quick trip to the UK. With only a short amount of time off work, I travelled at a frenzied pace and visited London, Bournemouth, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Loch Lomond. Thinking back on it now, the whole trip is a bit of a blur, but there’s one destination that still stands out so vividly in my mind: Edinburgh.
I remember walking out of the train station and immediately thinking “wow.” I remember how the grey and dreary weather mirrored the dark, medieval-style architecture, and how unbelievably beautiful it looked. I remember seeing the castle for the first time, and I remember frantically reaching for my camera and trying to capture the beauty of the city. I remember walking the streets with wide-eyes and gawking at every building I passed. This quote articulates my feelings for Edinburgh perfectly:
“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”
I was completely captivated by Edinburgh, and I don’t think a full day had even passed before I declared that I wanted to live here someday.
I knew visiting the UK for such a short time would leave me wanting to see more, but I didn’t expect to be leaving with such a heavy heart because of Edinburgh. The city had made a palpable impression on me, and when I returned home I had a strong ache whenever I thought of it.
Was it possible to be homesick for a place that I had yet to actually live in? How was I feeling so strongly for a place that I really didn’t know all that well; a place where I had only experienced the equivalent of a brief fling – not a lengthy and meaningful relationship.
But, here I am now, almost three years later with the same strong feelings. I’ve travelled to other destinations – some of which have also made a lasting impression on me – but Edinburgh is the city that always manages to evoke the most intense sense of longing. A magnetic-like pull draws me back to thoughts of its dark, cobblestone streets and winding alleyways.
And now that I’m only mere days away from returning to the city that has been in the back of mind for so long, I can’t help but feel hesitant; questions and uncertainties have been flooding my mind lately.
Will the city look and feel as I remember, or have my memories of Edinburgh become over-romanticized after years of daydreaming about it? Will I still marvel at every building, or will I become jaded with time? Will the constant dreary, grey skies make me feel differently about a city I feel so attached to? And, even if the city is exactly as I remember, is it possible to feel the same about it when I’m a different person than I was the last time I visited?
As much as I’m excited to settle into expat life in Edinburgh, my thoughts are consumed by these trivial worries. This is the first time I’m returning to one of my favourite cities, and I’m not sure how it feels to revisit a place that holds such a special place in my heart.