I made it to Skye! I’m in my little dorm room and in a couple of hours I’ll meet the rest of the people attending classes here.
Excitement has built over the months, weeks, and days as time neared for me to go on this crazy adventure.
I’ve diligently studied Gaelic via the short course Sabhal Mor Ostaig ( The University of Highlands and Islands in Sleet, Skye) recommended. I’ve spent way too much time wondering what the classes will be like and if I’ll really catch on to this difficult language.
As T-3 months became T-3 weeks I decided to upgrade my phone to an X. Yep I did it, I went for the better camera and the app that allows you to send a text as a talking unicorn. I mean, after all, the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. It’s true—look it up!
And then, while I was upgrading my phone, my gotta-have-it brain kicked in and I purchased an Apple watch. It’s super cool with all sorts of important built in bells and whistles—like the Breathe app. With a gentle vibration it reminds you it’s time to breathe. And if you engage the app, it will take you through a 1 minute exercise.
So with watch on hand and I-phone X in purse I packed my bags and made my way to Scotland.
Other than discovering in Denver that I needed 4 new tires, everything has gone right on schedule. I even scored a business class upgrade on my Denver to London flight!
But as I lay on that fancy bed trying to sleep, anxiety crept into my daydreams of Skye.
What if I can’t learn the language? I’d been at it for weeks and every time I’d turn from the computer screen, I’d forget what I had just learned. What if I’m the oldest person there? What if everybody else is Scottish and gives me the stink eye when I butcher their language. Holy Cow! What was I thinking?
In London, I handed the customs agent my landing card and stepped up to the booth. I shoved away my anxiety and smiled brightly as I prepared for him to ask a few simple questions, stamp my passport, and allow me into the UK. The first thing he did was look at my occupation and ask if I was really an author.
A question I’ve asked myself over the years. But I smiled and with my strongest fake-confidence said, “Yes, sir. I am
Agent: Well, I’ve never heard of you. Is it really your job?
Agent: Well I don’t read much so I guess that’s okay. Why are you here?
I straightened my shoulders and said, “I’m going to the University of Highlands and Islands in Skye to study Gaelic.”
Agent: Are you really going to study Gaelic?
I could hear the squeal of my false bravado escaping like a leaky balloon. “Yes-s-s, s-sir.
Agent: Do you have proof?
I handed him my class schedule. I thought he’d take one look and let me pass. Nope. He studied for about an hour – or a minute. At this point time was wonky.
Then he looked up and said, “I can’t read this. It’s in Gaelic.”
“The English is beneath the Gaelic.”
I’m not sure he understood that my statement was not a commentary on his mother tongue. Because, he removed his glasses and studied scheduled harder. People in line behind me began to dance around either in hopes or in dread that I was about to be hauled away to wherever they take slightly over middle aged writers with a desire to learn Gaelic. At last he let out long exaggerated sigh, stamped my passport, and allowed me to cross the boarder into the UK.
Once across, I should have been relieved. Instead, all of the anxiety that had settled in the base of my belly awoke. It hit me full force choking my airway, churning my gut, and screaming into my brain that I was a fool for doing this, that I was going to be laughed at.
And then…my watch jiggled my wrist and purple letters scrolled across the screen.
Time to breathe.
And I did. I followed my little watch’s instructions and I thought about what an adventure I’ll have. Even if I leave only slightly more educated, I’ll have tried. Even if I am laughed at, it’ll make a great story.
I’ve made it to Skye and I’m sitting in my little dorm room waiting for time to meet the others. I’m still nervous but as long as I have my watch to remind me to breathe, I know I’ll be okay.