On the rainier, colder evenings, Edinburgh smells like Cheerios.
It was on one of those nights -- when trash, sweat, the dregs of one's beer, and all the other usual smells of a city after-hours were overpowered by the inescapable aroma of walking through a cereal bowl -- that I made the short walk from my old flat to my old grocery store.
My Old Flat
I say old because I haven't been to either since July, but the minute I returned, it felt as though I'd never left. All day I'd been traipsing around the city with the same friends I'd spend the previous year with. We went to the same market we'd gone to nearly ever Sunday, bought the same paella we'd eaten nearly every week, and returned to the same flat to play games, watch a movie, and act as if no time had passed at all.
My Edinburgh family
All day things felt easy. It was normal, as-it-should-be, and disappointingly anti-climatic.
There was no big moment of return, no wild excitement while wandering the street. It didn't feel monumental or even all that important. I felt none of the thrill I get when I go on an adventure nor the curiosity of being somewhere new. I simply felt... relieved?
No, that wasn't quite it. There was something meatier to this particular feeling. But between the jet-lag and the constant company of my old roommates, I hardly had time to refine the complexities of my feeling. I simply enjoyed the peaceful stillness in my heart, gave Sunny a few extra cuddles, and went about my day.
Prince Sunny in all his glory
It wasn't until I walked to the grocery store and caught a big whiff of the Cheerio-streets that I realized what it was I felt.
Unfortunately, there's no one word for it. Relief, peace, ease, comfort... none of these quite capture it. But we've all felt it. You know that feeling you get after returning home after a long day? Your shoulders finally relax and you suddenly realize you've been holding your breath for hours. You let yourself move a little slower, think a little softer, and breathe a little deeper. You're home; you're safe; there's no longer any need to worry.
That's what I felt on the short walk from my old flat to my old grocery store. Like after months of fighting a long and confusing battle, I was finally back where I belonged.
I wandered the aisles of the grocery store with a dumb grin on my face. My eyes teared up at every familiar brand and I wanted to hug the Digestives.
Instead, I bought a few modest groceries and retraced my steps. Just before ringing the buzzer (a guest now, I had no keys), I paused. I turned to face the castle and took a deep breath.
The view from my flat <3
The freezing Edinburgh air cut straight to my core, but with the trickling of my friends' laughter floating out of the window, the unforgettable view of the castle illuminated in the starlight, and a bag of cheap groceries from a shitty corner store, I felt the warmest I've felt in a while.