I am home.
I knew it as soon as our eerily empty Megabus rolled to an unscheduled stop on Queensferry Street. I nearly cried when I saw the dark stone entrance to Caledonian Backpackers. Was it really only a month that I lived here? Has it really been 8 months since I left?
I had prepared myself for changes, but nearly everything is the same as I left it.
There’s a sign on the reception desk boasting a nomination for The Best Large Hostel in the World, and I think to myself, it deserves to win. The walls in the hostel are still covered in graffiti murals and the floorboards still sag. The bunk beds, the bar, the atmosphere—the stairs that I fell down in a shopping cart. The cinema room where we fell asleep. The blackboard that explains the conditions of the ten second rule.
I grocery shop at the Co-op around the corner for my dinner, staying loyal rather than crossing over to the new Sainsbury’s. The utensils are all in the same spots in the kitchen, right where I left them nearly a year ago. I make a new friend over dinner. Just like always.
They’ve gotten a little farther on the tram construction, but there are still barbed wire fences directing pedestrian traffic by the Lothian Street intersection.
If you cross the road and head down Lothian, all the same bars, stores, and restaurants are still there—the Spanish restaurant where I tried Tapas for the first time with my girls, the coffee shop where my friends worked and the rest of us visited.
Central Church was the lack of students and addition of suntans, but I sang familiar words, saw familiar faces, and experienced the same welcoming vibe that first attracted me to its open doors.
Edinburgh Castle was hadn’t changed, of course, but to me it looked more majestic in the golden afternoon sunshine, welcoming summer sunbathers onto the neon grass in Princes Park below its royal perch.
There’s something comforting in knowing my way around. Tomorrow I’ll walk the Royal Mile and investigate the Nation Galleries for new additions. I’ll have free breakfast at noon and sit on one of the far too comfy couches drinking tea and reading much longer than I should, because I love this place and I’m ecstatic to be back and I never wanted to leave in the first place.
I am swarmed by memories and I feel incredibly lucky to be stuck in this time warp. I feel as if I have dived into a picture from my past and I’m soaking it up, drinking in the details, happy to be home.