A few weeks back – or maybe it was only a week (my time-clock is askew) – I received an e-mail from Mary asking if I could write a caption about the photo I sent to her for the book she is writing. It will be published sometime in the future, and it’s a history of the college I went to a year or two ago. The photo I sent her will be placed in the International/Study Abroad section (unsure of the actual, official name). It’s a shot of me, sitting on Arthur’s Seat with a glorious view of Edinburgh in the background. It’s my favorite shot, and I would feel like any other photo I’d sent would not live up to this one:
So I sent Mary a small paragraph explaining the photo, but then I gave the reason as to why I liked this photo so much. I began to ramble and forgot it was only supposed to be a tiny caption for a tiny picture on only part of a page. But it was just something glorious I needed to elaborate on. I grew to realize how special this picture was (and is) to me, even if I was not the one behind the camera (Noah, a friend of mine from Wisconsin, had been the one to click). It tells so much about what me, Noah, and Gareth (another friend from Australia) did before and then after this shot.
At the start of October we had taken a weekend away from school in Scarborough, England – where I would be for a semester – and the destination had been Edinburgh.
The trek up this mountain took around 45 minutes by foot (that amount of time is estimated, I don’t remember the exact length). There were no special cable cars to carry us there. The “hill” as it’s called by people from Edinburgh has to be scaled the old-fashioned way. It takes a bit out of you, especially with the unevenness of the terrain and the intermingling of eroded rock and rubble, weeds, and other obstacles. The path eventually led to an easy incline of tall grasses that blew from the ruthless winds at the near-summit. We dug our feet in as we tried to go further up, all the way, to the once-again rocky tip of the mount. A white monument, like a decapitated ziggurat, was the only thing there denoting it as “Arthur’s Seat.” A few other tourists had made the trek, but that did not make our journey any less enjoyable.
We took photos of us there, evidence of our trek. Here is Gareth, me, and Noah after our expedition to the top:
When we had finished wandering about the topmost blocks of rock and stone, the three of us went back onto the grassier part of the mount where the wind had been fiercest. Despite it being around 70°F that day, it felt much cooler. I don’t remember who was first, but soon we all were lying down upon the grass peering up at the sunny sky, clouds floating idly past in bunches.
This was one of the best moments of my trip abroad: reclining on this grassy hillside after scaling the mountain. We just gazed at the enormous sky; the wind blew past us but we didn’t feel it at all, being so low against the ground. A sense of accomplishment and contentment enveloped me. I couldn’t think about anything else, but the sky, being there, and feeling like this was everything I was missing. It was fresh and real. I felt fresh and real and glad to be right then. It almost felt like an eternity. It could have been an eternity there.
It’s definitely one of the best moments of my life. These moments strike me from time to time. There have been others, but this one always sticks out to me as a special one. The first of October, 2005. Just a random autumn Saturday. But it became one of the most extraordinary, transcendent days I’ve experienced.
(Not to mention the Jesus bed at our hostel. Someone had already taken this bed for the night, but I couldn’t leave Edinburgh without a shot of this place.)