After Los Angeles, Connecticut was freezing and after Connecticut, Edinburgh is tepid. It is rainy and grey but it lacks the bitter wind and snow of New England. The first thing I do when I get back is have soup and coffee at Black Medicine. After that I have a meeting at my university, then I buy cuticle cutters and oil for my travel-beaten hands. Then the grocery store: coffee, cream, oatcakes, wine. I fall asleep at 7 after 36 hours of no sleep (airplane sleep doesn’t count) and I wake up a little after 6. I don’t leave my bed until 9:30.
We’re flying over one of the largest lakes in Europe, he said. We had started our descent into Amsterdam. He’d been asleep most of the flight, chin to chest. I knew more about him than I cared to. He talked a lot in the beginning. We sat in the airplane while it was de-iced. Albeit manmade, he added, leaning over me to look out the window.
Huh, I said, and then wondered if that was rude. He didn’t seem to care. He wanted to be a city planner. He was young and mostly uninteresting and he had a faint lisp.
What grade are you in? he’d asked before. I was watching jets of pink liquid melt ice off the wing. Nobody had asked me that question for a very long time. I felt suddenly 12 or 13.
I’m a junior, he said confidently. He was off to study in the Netherlands for five months. He had never been out of the country before.
I wanted to give him some advice. I wanted to tell him I am almost ten years older than you. Listen to this wise thing I have to say. I wanted to impart some piece of knowledge I wished I’d had when I was his age. I wanted to tell him a book to read or a movie to watch.
Instead I couldn’t say anything. I answered his questions noncommittally and watched Mamma Mia as soon as he shut up.
What does it mean, that I don’t have any advice? I thought later.
I fell asleep with my head against the window. I woke up in the middle of a Ray LaMontagne song and I still didn’t have anything important to say.
photographs taken with a Minolta X-700 in Edinburgh, Scotland.