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We leave Aberdeen tomorrow.

Laundry a la Aberdeen

I’ve been here almost a month, which is to say: my suitcase has. I haven’t spent a single weekend in this flat. Weekends were in Arran, Oxford, Aviemore—bookended by train journeys up and down the East Coast, watching sheep and dairy cows grazing on the slopes above the sea. On weekdays, though, I’ve hardly left it.

This is the summer I’ll remember in my heels. Twin bursitis under both my calcaneal bones. Because of this, I’ve been immobile for the past three weeks. Hobbling from taxi to house in half-laced hiking boots, walking only on my metatarsals. Confined to chambers, slogging through the first half of my thesis draft.

The picture I can paint of Aberdeen is very small. A likeness taken through the kitchen window: a lane three feet wide that isn’t reachable by car, front yards facing into front yards, flowers, hedges, clothes hung out to dry. And beyond that, an expanse of chimneys, stone, and granite. A cathedral, Gothic, spired, that dominates the view. (Though I am told it isn’t a cathedral.) The rest is unexplored.

Aberdeen smells like wet garden dirt and ocean air. Sunshine and stringent laundry soap. Bouquets of thistle, rotting daisies. Frying fish. It sounds like seagulls cawing. The light is white in clear skies or in clouds, but blue for all the endless Scottish twilight. Our little wooden bed is red to match our suitcases.

If I ever come back here, I’ll walk straight down to the boardwalk, ride the Ferris Wheel, and look out across the cold sea clotted with oil tankers. I’ll walk the grey-paved streets packed full with grey-bricked buildings. I’ll walk right up to that false cathedral, and find out what the hell it is.

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