Y’all! We got engaged in Edinburgh!!!!
Everything had to conspire to be perfect for the day to go as it did. And it did, go perfect, that is. Well, in the end. The beginning, not so much. You see, this story is complicated. But the end result is perfection. So stick around. This is one worth telling to the grand-kids. 😉
I’m sleep-deprived and panicking. Yes, I’ve slept on the plane. But that is never enough sleep when you’re traveling, especially when the plane was only going from Boston Logan International airport to Reykjavik Airport. Maybe four, maybe five hours. Tops.
We get off the plane (Jordan and I) and are already at our next gate area. There’s no customs to go through, we simply have to wait. For three and a half hours. Oy vey.
We are tired. The chairs are uncomfortable. Food looks and smells delightful nearby but we don’t have Icelandic money and don’t want to bother with cards. And also there’s the getting up, which is so hard when you’re already seated and so, so tired. I lay my head on Jordan’s shoulder and am out cold for about thirty minutes. It is the best thirty minutes of my life.
We stretch, we talk, we stay silent. In and out of consciousness, we doze off here and there. Our bodies don’t understand the time difference. SLEEP, they scream. But the chairs are uncomfortable and the lights are bright. Sleep doesn’t come easily.
Finally we are able to move closer to our gate. We are just tiny people in a big crowd. We file one by one into a line while we wait, yet again. This time everyone is anxious and sleep deprived. After another thirty minutes, we cycle through and are transported on buses to our plane. We walk up the stairs, find our upgraded seats that I accidentally paid for and are blown away with Icelandic Air’s service.
Free headphones. Check. Comfy seats. Check. Extended foot room. Check. Free cheese and ham Baguette. Check. Free blueberry vodka drink. Check.
When we land we follow signs to collect our bags. We cross our fingers everything arrives, and it does. We then head onward, looking for a bus to take us to the train station. Our journey to our destination isn’t quite over.
Outside at the end of the arrivals area, we see the bus we are looking for. I pay the man for two one way passes and we load our luggage and take a seat. Jordan’s shoulder is my resting place once again.
We arrive down the street from the main train station in Glasgow only ten minutes later. We walk down the road, lugging our bags behind us. I get Jordan to snap a picture of me in front of the train station. The architecture is beautiful and this picture is my only one from the city.
Once inside, we use the automated machine to buy tickets for a train to Edinburgh, where we will be staying the next two days. We had opted to fly into Glasgow and take the train to save about $400 on plane tickets. As soon we buy the tickets and head further into the train station, we see that our train has one minute before it leaves. We rush towards it and hop on just before the doors close. We store our bags between the cars and find seats next to each other. I am seated at the window and the warm sun shines on my right arm, relaxing me. It has been a long morning.
Jordan and I enjoy the countryside as we ride. There are hills and cows and sheep and cottages. This is the Scotland I remember from when I visited in high school. It’s like it’s trapped in time.
I put on some makeup and once I’m finished we arrive at Waverly station in Edinburgh. We grab our bags and head out onto the street. I pull up the address of our hotel and try to determine walking directions using Google Maps. I am about to point out the way when an elderly lady taps me on the shoulder.
“Do you need some directions, sweetie?” she asks me, smiling.
“Actually, yes. This is where our hotel is. Do you know the best way to get there?”
I show her the map on my phone and she nods.
“Across the street,” she points towards a tall building. “in that building there is a set of stairs that goes all the way up to the bridge above us. You can take that down or you can go to the right and go all the way around the station but it takes longer.”
I smile and thank her. We’ve only been in Edinburgh five minutes and we both feel so welcomed. This is not usually the case when you’re a tourist.
We head towards the building and Jordan helps me carry my bag up the winding staircase. Once at the top, we catch our breath and turn left down the bridge towards our hotel.
I don’t go more than five steps before I see a familiar face. We are in one of Scotland’s largest cities, the one city I know one person in, and I just so happen to be walking right into her.
“Oh my god!” we both say as we hug.
“I can’t believe I’m running into you and I’ve only been here five minutes!” I tell her.
We had been texting earlier in the day about meeting up later that night or the next day. I was floored that we were crossing paths when the city was so large. Only fate works like that.
We chatted for a few minutes, snapped a quick picture and agreed to meet up the next night. I wonder aloud to Jordan if we would have ran into her if we hadn’t had the three hour delay or had the nice Scottish lady show us how to get over the bridge. Life is funny sometimes, in the best way.
Once at the hotel, we settle into our room. I had booked the Glasshouse hotel owned by Marriott with my credit card points. The hotel was gorgeous and we could walk directly outside onto a cute patio and then into the gardens.
“It’s so pretty outside,” I tell Jordan. “Maybe we should hike Arthur’s Seat today, instead of tomorrow.”
The sun has been out all day, a rare occurrence in the UK. The weather is perfect, just warm enough that you only need a light jacket. Jordan knew how much I wanted to go to the top of Arthur’s Seat. When I in high school, I came to Edinburgh for two weeks with my theatre classmates so we could perform in the Fringe Festival. We stayed at the University of Edinburgh and one of the days we hiked Arthur’s Seat. I never forgot how beautiful those views were, and I was determined to have this on my list of things to do while we were there, even though we only had about 48 hours.
“Okay, we can do that,” Jordan tells me. My insides are a jumble of nervousness. I feel like I’m about to see an old friend.
We head out as I try to use google maps again to steer us in the right direction. It’s been about eleven years since I’ve been here and I don’t know the way very well anymore. We walk for a while, enjoying the cute little apartments and the view of the sea to our left as we walk.
It’s about dinnertime when we are close to the base of Arthur’s Seat and we decide to take a detour and look for food. We are in a mostly residential area, but find a cute bar decorating in gay pride flags and random decor throughout. We order at the bar and take a seat by the window. Once our food arrives, we gobble it up and head back toward our journey.
At the base of Arthur’s Seat where we are, there are beautiful trees and buildings. We take some photos and decide which “hump” we will do. There are different trails with different intensities. I’m wearing fashion boots, nothing with good traction. I didn’t plan very well for this hike.
We decide we will go on the highest route to get the best views. I regret this fairly quickly, as I’m not in the shape I was a few months prior due to a bum knee and small ankle sprain. But as we climb this mountain, we take frequent breaks.
Poor Jordan had to endure my bitching the entire way up.
“Stop,” I tell him. “I need another break. This is so f’n hard. Why am I so out of shape? I can’t breathe.”
We sit on the trail, completely alone except the occasional jogger. These people are insane. Who does this on a regular basis? I lay back, taking in the brilliant blue sky above me.
The views are magnificent, even better than I recall. I’m fine even with the little bit we have walked so far but Jordan insists we go on.
“Come on,” Jordan tells me. “Just a little further.”
“I don’t want to do this anymore. This is far enough.” I don’t budge, too stubborn to move.
“I thought you wanted to go to the top?”
I start to change my story. “Well, I don’t think I ever went to the actual top last time. Right about here seems correct.”
The wind blows, forcing me to dig my fingers into the earth to feel steady. My hair whips across my face, sticking to my lipstick. My eyes are watering.
Jordan walks over to me, grabbing my hand to pull me up. “Let’s go.”
I comply, letting him help me. We keep going, stopping more frequently as we walk.
When we get to a patch of grass just below the final section of the climb, I give up for good.
“This is it. This is as far as I’m going. This wind is too strong and we have to literally climb to go any further.”
Jordan looks at the next stretch and the two people almost to the top. He knows I’m right. The couple is climbing, leaning over and using their hands to help them go. The wind would be too strong.
The patch of land I’m standing on blows my hair around my face. Jordan photographs me laying down, and then practically falling over from a sitting position because the wind is so strong. I think about how I almost brought my tripod to take pictures of us up here and am glad that I chose not to. There’s no way it would stay up.
Jordan comes over to me, holding out his phone. There’s a video of my son on it.
“Mommy, Jordan has an important question to ask you,” Jude says.
As Jordan starts to say something to me, a huge burst of wind comes and my hair flies all over the place. Jordan leans down to steady himself.
When the wind subsides, he is kneeling. “Katie, will you marry me?”
“Oh my God. Are you serious?” I think I say this ten times even when he keeps saying yes, he is serious.
I’m crying and suddenly, a ring is on my finger. I can’t comprehend what has happened. The ring is a beautiful display of diamonds twinkling in the sunlight. I look at my handsome fiance, the view of Edinburgh all around us. I kiss him multiple times.
I try to remember another time in my life where everything felt this perfect, but I can’t. Because here, in Edinburgh, a place that always meant so much to me, a place where my wanderlust flourished again, my best friend became my fiance.
We take a million pictures and then head back down. I am still in shock as we walk, playing with the ring as I do, not yet used to the weight of it on my finger.
I ask him who he told, and how long he’s had the ring. We talk about who we will tell first. When we get back into the city where one of the main roads is, we head inside a bar for some celebratory drinks. I video chat with my dad on Google Hangout and tell him the news.
He doesn’t act surprised because Jordan had already asked my parent’s permission prior to the trip. My mom is asleep but he promises to show her the pictures as soon as she wakes. He later tells me that she had the biggest smile on her face. This gives me comfort, since my mom passes away the next day. She’s been sick for a while at this point. I hold onto the fact that I gave her her last smile, I just wish I could’ve talked to her about it. But life isn’t always as perfect as this one day was.
We spend the rest of the night walking around Edinburgh. Since it doesn’t get dark until almost ten, we have lots of sunlight to take pictures. Finally, as the sun starts to disappear, we head back to our room.
Everything happened exactly as it should, or maybe it would have ever happened at all. That’s the funny thing about fate, sometimes what we think are detours end in a beautiful story. I still can’t believe we got engaged in Edinburgh!