The longing for home

The realisation as I went to bed last night, that at that exact time but two weeks in the future, I’d be on the North Link ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick, was enough to take my excitement about our voyage to new heights. As I lay there thinking of the otters, the ponies, the potential orca sightings- the puffins! I soon fell fast asleep dreaming of all those good things.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I’m going to Shetland for a holiday, I often have to explain why I’m going. One lady at work even questioned if my husband minded me going on a holiday with my mum rather than going away with him. I don’t really see the fuss, this holiday has been on my bucket list for many years and I absolutely can not wait. (Also, my husband does mind that I’m going to Shetland without him, but only because he is super keen to go himself. I’ve promised this is a recce and we will go together next year- hopefully to Up Helly Ah, to which he said he didn’t want to go if he couldn’t join in with the Jarlsmen!).

Obviously this trip isn’t just about the amazing scenery and wildlife, but about reconnecting with my family, and a place that sits deep in my heart without me having ever been there. I recently read Sixty Degrees North by Malachy Tallack in which he said the following;

“The longing for home and the longing for love are so alike as to be almost inseparable. The desire to be held by a person, or by a place, and to be needed; the urge to belong to something, and for one’s longing to be reciprocated.”

I feel like that longing for home is something I can definitely identify with. In my 35 years I have had 17 different addresses. In a particularly busy period of my life, between 2012 and 2015 I moved 9 times. I can happily say now that where I currently live is the longest place I have ever lived since I was a teenager. I’m not just talking moves across town either, I’m talking 3 different countries within the UK, literally all corners of Great Britain. Should it matter? Have other people moved more and coped better? I have to admit that I found it exhausting, so it is not a surprise to me looking back that I have been experiencing high levels of anxiety over the past 15 years. I’m not suggesting a holiday to Shetland will answer all my problems, not by any stretch, but Scotland, in particular Edinburgh and Shetland, are the only places throughout my life that have been a constant. No disrespect to East Anglia at all, its a beautiful place and is always synonymous with ‘coming home,’ and I am also acutely aware of the fact I didn’t enjoy my time living in Edinburgh, but the reasons for that are different from the city, it is definitely a city that I love very much. In addition, I love Devon very much, and love nothing better than the home I share with my husband and our little cocker spaniel, but I often feel restless here, ready to leave, to move on to a different lifestyle, that something is missing.

I don’t think I will find exactly what I am looking for in Shetland. Initially I was hoping for family I never knew, ancestors that when you said their name, people lit up with recognition, buildings and places that would be easily found and tell me all the tales of my late family. So far this has not been the case, if anything I’ve mostly felt disappointment. No long lost relatives, no one remembers the family that left Shetland in the 1930s, their old house is now a leisure centre. Despite this though, I still feel like going there will bring me a sense a peace. I so want what Tallack described, for a place to hold me, to feel that I belong somewhere. Perhaps, like Tallack, I want to come full circle, but rather than following the sixty degree latitude around the globe, I will return to my ancestors lives, in order to find calm in my own. If all that anxiety I discussed in my last post really is in my bones, will finding out their truths and their lives, allow for a sense of freedom, or will it just bring more disappointment? Whatever happens, spending time with my beautiful mamma will be great, and if I see a puffin, and maybe an otter to, then even better!

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