February 20th, 2008
I listen to This American Life a lot. Iâ€™m whatâ€™s known as a â€˜time shifter.â€™ That is, I subscribe to the podcast and listen to it sometime after the actual broadcast. For me, that usually means on my laptop as I cook or on my iPod on the journey to or from work.
My podcast subscriptions include a few more NPR shows and Ron Mooreâ€™s Battlestar Galactica podcast, when that TV show airs. I occasionally put on KQED via iTunes, just to hear something San Franciscan, while most of my news comes from my Google page. Add all these together and top it off with Skype calls to friends and family beyond Scotland, and you may begin to comprehend what Iâ€™m about to tell you.
I wake up every morning and am surprised to find myself in Scotland.
It doesnâ€™t happen instantly. I wake up, shower, have breakfast, pack lunch, all the while too dopey or too rushed to give it any thought. Usually realization dawns along Union Place â€“ maybe in front of the Omni giraffes â€“ or on Princes Street as I wait for my bus. A raised voice pierces through Ira Glassâ€™ flowing intonations. And you know what? Itâ€™s Scottish.
Iâ€™ve always held an affection for foreign accents, accents from the British Isles in particular, so this raised voice catches my attention. Itâ€™s in this split-second â€“ this moment of savored novelty that shouldnâ€™t be novel at all â€“ that it strikes me: Iâ€™m in Scotland! Not only that, I live in Scotland. Iâ€™ve been here for nearly two months now. Somehow I had lost those facts overnight, mislaid them whilst chatting with my Irish wife, or Skyping with my American family or listening to my American radio shows. Maybe even while watching a documentary on the BBC.
Every morning we step out into the world: myself on the way to work, Orla to look for work. Every evening we return home and disappear into our little comfortable shell and itâ€™s easy to forget where we are and how far we are from home. We have few friends as yet, and none who we could truly describe as intimate. Those we have are lovely, but we donâ€™t see them all that frequently. So most evenings itâ€™s just the two of us and maybe a book or the Internet, locked in our tight little world.
And as one day passes into the next, itâ€™s persistently surprising to find Scotland perched just outside our door.