Scotland. The country where I was born, and still live. For me its a land of ancient mysteries and magical places. I find its beauty overwhelming and humbling. It's shaped me into who I am today. It has been the very centre of who I am. It's lochs, and mountains, people, stories and music have acted like an earthing rod. They gave me a grounding. At times it has been everything I have ever had. I'm a guy with simple pleasures, I don't need flash cars or big houses, sometimes all I need is a little freedom to enjoy the outdoors of this fine land to remember who and what I am.
That was how it was until 6 months ago. In just that amount of length of time everything I knew and thought I knew was turned on its head. Then just over two weeks ago I came home and it no longer felt like, well, home. It was strange. It felt alien. It was no longer enough. It kind of took me by surprise.
There seems to be two types of Scots, those who can't wait to grow up and get away from it and those who never want to leave. I always belonged in the latter group. I never saw myself leaving here permanently. I wanted to have time to travel the world for sure, but I always saw myself coming back.
I'm no longer sure that I can say that's the case any more. In around 12 weeks I'll be leaving here and I'm not sure I'll be coming back on a permanent basis. And the strange thing is I don't even feel sad.
I have around 12 weeks of working and saving to do so that I can take enough money with me so that I won't end up a sponge for the following 3 months. That's the simple part. The tricky part is to convince Border Patrol and Homeland Security to let me in for those 3 months. It was hard enough to convince them to let me in for just 2 weeks the last time. I wasn't expecting the 25 minute interrogation - but then the Monty Python crew always did say no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition, its just I really wasn't expecting it. I mean I wasn't even wearing a checked black and white tea towel on my head, or trying to get into Texas whilst sporting a Mexican style moustache above my lip. I may have said that I was a landscaper but I failed to see where I could hide a lawnmower in my luggage. I just wasn't expecting that level of paranoia for what was just an innocent 2 week holiday.
Next time I will be more prepared. I will have the same answers to the same questions. It just might not be so honest this time around. In that yes I am working now so that I can take enough money with me so that I'm not going to be a sponge and I will have enough money to go home again and buy another return ticket to renew my 3 month visitors visa. Next time around I really doubt that I can make enough money to do the same thing again, not in the space of a week or two's flying visit. I just don't see that being possible.
Why doesn't this scare me? It should. But I'm not. What the hell is wrong with me? I will need to find a way to work eventually. How I allay the suspicions of Border Patrol when I don't believe it myself I have no idea. Despite all this uncertainty I feel the journey I am now on is my road to home.
Which in itself is strange. 6 months ago I had no real ambition to settling in the USA. There were places in the States that I wanted to visit, fleetingly, at some point, but I had no intention of living in a country with so many lawyers, guns or psychiatrists. Neither of which to me seemed to be a healthy approach to dealing with your problems. Now, strangely, it feels like home. What the hell happened? What did she poison me with? Utah fry sauce may be famous but it wasn't so great that I should be missing the place. The love of, and for, a good woman does strange things to a man. I'm ready and at peace with my decision to give up the land that begat me and I'm looking forward to discovering Utah, & America, and becoming as familiar with it as I am with Scotland today. Now if only I could get a job photographing and writing about that journey of new discoveries. Och if only I had the ability to write.
Dougie MacLean: Caledonia