It’s a Bonnie Life

“How do you say ‘pretty’ again?” she asked coyly.

“I think it’s ‘bonnie lass.’ You used to be one, remember?” he teased.

It’s the kind of brief, familial exchange you hear from a couple whose relationship has obviously stood the test of time. It’s this jovial, lighthearted banter between two people that makes you smile, even when you know you’re catching only a glimpse of that camaraderie.

On my recent tour of Inverness, Scotland, I had the pleasure of traveling with 16 other passengers. Jim and Brenda, a retired couple from Arizona, sat behind me; their cheeky interchange was a welcome insight into the world of marriage, parenthood, and simply growing old together. They teased, giggled, and nudged each other often, and I thought it was adorable. We chatted briefly: exchanged our backgrounds, name origins, and what we had been enjoying most about this three-day tour. “A three-hour tour…a three-hour tour,” Jim sang as he hummed to the theme song of Gilligan’s Island. We instantly got the reference and giggled.

While our interactions were brief, this couple still made an impression on me. After all, isn’t this what most people crave? This closeness that allows you to be exactly who you are? Filters and egg shells are replaced with a boundless “no holds barred” platform of honesty and comfort. Years of experience build up to a space where what you have left are unabashed recollections of life for two. I often wonder what that will be like for me.

I imagine a man also telling me I used to be a bonnie lass, as he gently helps me remove the shoe from my prosthetic leg. Or him cutting my meat into tiny squares, as we bicker over who left the bathroom light on. I imagine him pushing me down a boardwalk in Barcelona, the sun beaming on our tired faces. I imagine our very creative sex life – many nights of fun and splendor. The quiet times are filled with cozy evenings in the kitchen, as we try out the latest cauliflower recipe that food bloggers seem to swear by. We share a glass of wine, I realize I’ve burnt the chicken once again, and we make do, because having burnt chicken with cauliflower rice and wine is still what memories can be made of.

We binge-watch a few episodes of Friends (and agree they were in fact on a break), as I scold him for not taking out the trash; and the evening moon wanes as the smell of burnt chicken wafts through the windows. It’s a bonnie life.


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Get “Well” Soon

On a recent trip to Inverness, Scotland, we stopped by a magical place true to Scottish lore. Clootie Well, a well surrounded by trees and healthy foliage, was the ancient remnant of old Scottish tradition. It’s believed that pilgrims would once flock to this well in hopes of curing a disease or ailment. The pilgrims would dip a strip of cloth, or “cloot,” in the well or spring and hang the cloth on a nearby tree branch. The healing ritual ended with a prayer and good wishes to those in need (whether for the person hanging the cloth or a loved one).

clootie well

Now, I’m not much of a superstitious person myself, but something called out to me in that forest that cool September day. It was as if I could hear a collective sigh reverberating through the trees; a sigh of all those yearning to heal. It echoed with the voices and pleas of people who may be like me, who knew how much our energy and thoughts could travel to help a person’s soul, even if that hope was all we had to give. Clearly, these pilgrims felt the same way; I’m guessing many of them traveling from afar, and with limited resources. I’m reminded how far love and the power of “good” can travel when at your core, you know it’s the best you can do for yourself and someone you care for.

clootie well 2As I made my way through the forest and up the jagged stone steps, guided by my friend’s arm and our bubbly tour guide, I took it all in: this cloth version of a “get well soon” card display that carefully hung on trees and branches. The fine threads wavered in the breeze, and rags were wrapped around barks, like children embracing their mothers. There was a silent, unshakeable innocence and vulnerability that lingered in the air. As I silently placed my damp cloth on a small, slightly withered branch, I thought of my loved ones: the friends that are struggling, the friends that are sad, the friends that could do with that hopeful energy I so desperately needed myself before. Somehow, as if by magic, I felt that I set something in motion just by being present, by allowing my thoughts to be filled with nothing but hope.

So often we forget to simply ask how a person is feeling, how they’re doing, and more importantly, what we can do to make them a little better. Can we save the world on our own? No. Probably not. Can we save people from their own fate? No. Probably not. But can we make them feel better? Well, I’d sure like to think that we can try.



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