So, the Caribbean was not truly for me. I feel very guilty and spoilt writing that, but I think there are certain landscapes that really resonate with a person – often, but not always, those they grew up in – and, objectively beautiful as they are, those white sand beaches and swaying palms don’t strike a chord deep in my heart in the way that, say, the Cotswold hills or the New York Adirondacks or, of course, the French Alps do. So I had a wonderful holiday, with many, many very special moments, but I didn’t feel that connection with my natural surroundings that has become so important to me over this year of living in the mountains.
Then, on the last evening, Ben and I walked down to the local beach for a swim in the quiet dusk. We dived with the pelicans in the gentle surf, tinted golden by the waning sun. We splashed like little children and floated on our backs, watching wisps of pink cloud settle on the islands’ hilltops, and when I got out, I stood wrapped in a towel with sand sticking to my feet and I felt at once much younger and much older than I really am. It was the only place I wanted to be right then.
This year will be a strange and perhaps difficult one. When we moved to the Alps, we didn’t really have a long term plan. Find finance work in Geneva and have a weekend home in Chamonix? Become ski instructors/B&B owners and stay here forever? Do the unthinkable and move back to London?
When the possibility of moving to Aberdeen arose, I was initially uncertain, then embraced it fully. Scotland may not have a perfect climate, but it does have mountains, and beautiful coastline, and remote islands to explore, and winters that necessitate fireplaces, and not very many people, and ceilidhs, and family on both of our sides. But now that I am filling boxes to be shipped home and looking at the calendar with dread as the days slip away towards the 27th, it is hard to feel anything about the move but a sense of loss. Can you grieve for a place in the way you do for a person or animal?
I still firmly believe this is our place, but I understand that this isn’t our time. When I graduated from university in 2007, I think the only thing that I would have predicted that has actually happened over the past four years is marrying Ben. So who knows where we will be four years from now. I must keep remembering that it’s exciting to embark on every one of life’s journeys; it will be exciting to find out.