I still have dreams of Edinburgh - those transformed subconscious memories that return to me when I am sleeping. In my dreams I am walking between tall townhouses, through closes and wynds, towards one of my favourite haunts... Probably some kirkyard or garden.
When I first began living in Edinburgh, I was struck by this feeling of coming home. Although I had never previously set foot in Scotland, everything felt familiar: the Georgian houses with moulded ceilings; the plethora of Indian restaurants; the bag-piping buskers; the wild heathered countryside encroaching upon the city; the street names - George, Princes, Albany; and the dismal fogs that surrounded the variously grey buildings.
I thought to myself: The Scottish settlers of New Zealand must have felt like this. This odd sense of familiarity.
My waking memories, however, are becoming dimmer now - as if they are being simmered in a pot till their contents are evaporated and concentrated.
CONCENTRATED MEMORIES - 80%
Whimsy - 20%
*Sticky notes scattered all over the carpet of a room furnished with only a couch. On the couch are some blankets and a pillow. A girl is crouched over her musings, arranging them in some unseen order. Beside her is a box of chocolates, half finished and about thirty books, dog-eared and opened upon their spines. She hadn't left the apartment in three days.*
Reaching down to put a pound note in her paper cup, I looked up and smiled at her, sensing she wished to say something. I was alone on my birthday, and I had all the time in the world to talk to this young woman. I sat beside her, she told me about her troubles at home in Ireland, her hair-dressing degree, and her children. I would like to buy you some dinner, if you will let me, I said. She accepted.
A conversation between two Scots:
Friend: But whit ur ye gonnae dae abit it?
Guy: Oh, ah dunnae... Ah dunnae hae a scooby whit tae dae.
My favourite cafe for breakfast, where they served tea and crepes, and a conversation overheard between an old English couple:
Lady: I do not like sardines, you see. Ever since I was younger, at my parents summer-house, we would eat them for brunch, and I hated them."
Gentleman: *Reading the newspaper, briefly glances upwards* ... Mmhmmm...
Lady: Where is that tea I ordered for you? This place is just dreadful, the worst service! I cannot believe they have not brought it over yet.
Gentleman: Mmmm..? Oh yes, the tea, no, terrible isn't it?
An amalgamated vision of all those times I took the bus to Leith, to see my friends:
It was night, I was watching the other bus-riders curiously, and I listened to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young through 5 dollar headphones.
My own personal record:
Four months without a towel to dry myself.
Colours - purple in the air, gold of the lights glinting off the glass of the train station roof, and the black stones covered in mould in the cemetery where I sat talking to a perfect stranger about the wonders of travel.