Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Highs, Lows, Castles and Whiskey

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?”

Kahlil Gibran

The last couple of weeks have brought highs and lows. Caitlin and I had a wonderful time exploring Aberdeen. She got to know some of my university friends and gave me her official consent to go on living here. The day after she arrived, we went to my classmate Jan’s house for an English Sunday lunch. Jan, her husband Pete and daughter Jennie (who is my age and my fabulous new friend) fed us a huge lunch of roast pork and stuffing and more wine than I’ve ever consumed in one sitting.

My friend Laurie took us to a concert where her boyfriend was playing last Saturday night and we topped off the evening with a 2am trip to the famous pie shop. If you live in Aberdeen and you’ve had a “night out,” your presence is required at Thain’s pie shop in George Street, where they sell savory pies full of things like macaroni, lasagna, or pork. I had been a little skeptical about the notion of encasing pasta inside a pastry, but the lasagna pie did not disappoint. Perhaps it was the time of night or maybe I’m a real Aberdonian now!

We also visited Dunottar Castle in Stonehaven, a few miles south of Aberdeen. The castle is perhaps the most picturesque in Scotland, situated on a rocky cliff and complete with a soundscape of crashing waves and keening seagulls. Intermittent rain showers created dozens of rainbows and we could only stare in wonder as pictures do no justice to the scene. (Caitlin did take several photos and I’ve included them here.) After spending some cold, rainy hours on the cliff we came to understand why the people of Scotland refer to whiskey as “the water of life.” I’d never liked it until that day. When you are cold and wet and shivering, it warms you up better than an electric blanket. My parents used to say I would learn to like beer after spending several hours doing manual labor in 100 degree heat. The opposite is true for whiskey. Experience a winter here and you’ll be buying stock in Glenfiddich.

Caitlin left Monday and I immediately came down with the flu. This could be related to our hour-long trek through ankle-deep snow to get home on Saturday, or just because everyone here seems to be sick at the moment. This afternoon I dragged myself out of bed to go to the doctor and fainted 3 times while waiting for the bus. I kept finding myself on the ground in the snow without knowing how I got there. This was definitely my lowest point since moving here. I actually sat down and cried, not knowing what to do and feeling utterly miserable. I called Jan and she sent Pete to pick me up and get me some flu medicine. She has also offered to bring me to their house and look after me until I feel better. I opted for my own bed since it’s closer and there’s no one in my flat for me to infect with my germs. Asking for help has never been easy for me, and being sick and alone is no fun either. However, if I hadn’t had that low point today I wouldn’t have had the chance to lean on someone. Jan and Pete and Jennie have taken me into their family in such a short time. Laurie and some of my other classmates have been checking on me all week. It is abundantly clear in my present state of drugged-up stupor that I am not alone here. And that is the best feeling I’ve had since arriving. So the worst and best moments happened in the same day. On that note, I’m going back to bed.


  1. Great post! Your thoughts are very coherent for being in a drugged-up stupor. So glad you have already found such loving, dependable people.

    BTW, last weekend at a fantastic Irish pub in OKC I discovered that I really like whiskey. I kept stealing sips of Matt's Jameson. Yum yum.

    I love the Khalil Gibran quote.

  2. Cannot believe you didn't take Jan up on her advice to be taken care of at her house....But am glad you let them take care of you otherwise. Sad that you are sick and I hope you are becoming one with your bed, until you feel better.