13 Mar 2013 Scotland: Inspiration in St. Andrews
This is an entry in the We Said Go Travel Writing Contest written by Beth Ford from America. Thanks for your entry Beth!
Standing on the curve of the land as it juts into the firth, holding onto the cool metal rail, damp with the morning’s rain, the paint peeling from it as if trying to escape in bits and pieces. I have tried to escape from many places in my life, but I must do it whole, and that is the difficulty. But here, finally, I feel that I don’t need to escape, that I have found a place to rest.
This is St Andrews, my temporary home. It settles on me, surrounds me, makes me feel like more than I am. The clouds have been broken carefully by the sun, illuminating the scenery in a patchwork of shadows. The breeze is gentle and warm. I take in a big breath. This is my favorite place, the place that fills my heart with inspiration so that I must stand up taller just to accommodate it within my chest.
Behind me, the cathedral manages to loom unmenacingly. Its ruins are beautiful – life and death wrung together through centuries of memories. That is what this particular spot means to me – a place where I can feel like I am part of the parade of humanity that has passed through this town and this university over the long course of history. I can stand here and feel the spirits of those who were here before me, learning, enjoying the view of the Firth of Tay, just as I am now.
To my left, farther down the length of the coastline, hunched over Castle Sands, sits the castle itself. It is ruined also. But rather than being depressing, the ruins are achingly, hauntingly beautiful. They blend into the raw, ragged scenery of Scotland, have become part of it.
Below me, the water laps at the rocks, slowly, ever so slowly, eroding away the land. Centuries and centuries hence, this spot will be different, perhaps gone altogether, but I will have been part of it. And those people who come along later in the long parade will sense that I was once here too, just as alive now as they will be then.
St Andrews. The place that makes me want to live, to learn, to be happy, to travel the world to find more places just like this. Though nothing can be just like this, nothing can calm me like standing in this exact place along this sidewalk wavering along this coastline can. No other place can put so much in perspective for me just by standing in this spot, below the cathedral, beside the castle, above the sea, under the Scottish sky graying again. It will probably rain later, but it won’t matter, because I have stood here stoically while the sun was out, warming me, showing me what was around me and inside me, inspiring me. I have stood here, been here, and absorbed it, and I am better for it. I am going to go forth and conquer the world, leaving St Andrews, but carrying it with me.
About the Author: Beth Ford: I am a twenty-something aspiring travel writer who writes to tide myself over between trips. I live in Washington, DC. I blog at http://accidentalfinds.wordpress.com.