My first trip out of the country was Aruba in 2001. My, but those were heady days: you could frolic a hop-skip-jump away from South America without a passport in a country that was still only known for being pleasantly warm and not for Dutch trust-fundies murdering blonde students. Our adventures were almost solely confined to the beaches and resorts, however, so my first true experience in culturally-different travel was England and Scotland in 2002 on a high school tour.
In case the girls ever ask me what the most intimidatingly secure facility I’ve ever been in was, I’d have to say Logan Airport about 7 months after 9/11. MassPort was compensating, y’all. Anyway, part of the trip included a brief jaunt to Edinburgh, home of the Fringe Festival, fried Mars bars, and more bars, pubs, and clubs than I was able to process. The drinking age was and is 18, and I was as drunk on the power of the legal purchase as I was on those ill-advised screwdrivers I chugged in the days before I knew that hard ciders were where it was at.
I maintain that it was no accident that our chaperones chose a hotel that trip had both tartan carpeting AND wallpaper. Even at 18, at the peak of my life’s (fool)hardiness and fresh-faced exuberance, I was powerless to handle the effects of melding plaid home fixtures in a full spin and had to be funneled into bed by my then-boyfriend and former English teacher while being fed sips of water by my poor put-upon friend as the plaid openly mocked me.
It is also no accident that Dignity and Deanna both start with D, for I am full of it. Obviously. I have no photos to share because a) all I had was a film camera In Those Days and b) are you kidding me?
Ten years has passed since that April trip. I’m considering which excuse I’ll give to not attend my 10-year reunion, should one be held. (I’ve narrowed it down to “I see all you nutters on Facebook every day” and “I live in Europe now [extend pinky].”) That boyfriend and I have married others; the English teacher has retired. I no longer feel that tartan laughs at me–only with me.
And last weekend, I went back to Edinburgh.
This time, I consumed perhaps one beer incrementally by stealing sips of Tom’s and a Scottish cider (strawberry, very summery!) over four days–breastfeeding, you know, and carbonation of any kind seems to give Moira gas. My parents came to visit; it was their first trip across the Atlantic and we had full itineraries. We complained of minor knee pain and sore feet and did review panels of the revelers walking outside our apartment windows–an apartment suited well to the needs of six people, two of whom were under the age of three. I saw Edinburgh by day, carrying my four-month-old in a carrier or sometimes pushing my almost-three-year-old up hills in her stroller. And on the second night I stayed up with an unsettled, teething baby and was so tired from her that I slept like a stone while others were kept awake by the pulsing bass of Friday’s party beat.
It was wonderful. Both trips were wonderful, and so dramatically different that they might as well have been taken by different people.
Although, I suppose, they were.