Somebody’s jacket hit me in the face. Twice. Some guy two rows up threw a piece of candy over my head. The guy behind me caught it. I know because I heard him cheer. Directly in my ear. When my friend and I purchased a weekend tour to the Isle of Skye, we imagined something serene, something peaceful. What we didn’t imagine was the rowdy group we unintentionally sat ourselves in the middle of. 

But somewhere along the journey, conversations about the most recent sports game got lost in the steady hum of tires against asphalt. And I can’t mark the exact moment city lights faded into the sun rising over mountain peaks, but I can remember the incredible sense of being somewhere new. Back home, the land is flat. But along that seemingly endless road, the landscape seemed layered. Mountain in front of mountain. The world reflected in gently rippling lochs. 

Picture taken on a stop in Carbost

When the bus made its first stop, we packed our bodies into the carpeted aisle and shuffled forward impatiently. Frozen grass crunched beneath my feet as I stepped outside. I think that was the closest I’ve ever come to seeing snow. Many of the people on our tour grouped together. Their voices carried across the vastness of the landscape. But when I turned away and walked towards an unoccupied patch of grass, I felt alone. 

There have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve felt small. The first day of first grade. The first night in my freshman dorm. The first day I stepped off the plane in Edinburgh. But the smallness I felt that weekend in the highlands was different. It was the kind of smallness that made me think my problems weren’t that big, the kind that made me smile. 

My smile turned to a shared giggle with my friend when our tour guide waved a large Scottish flag, our sign that it was time to get back on the bus. The rest of the ride consisted of this pattern: listen to facts spoken over the bus’s static radio, wish the guy behind me would stop kicking my seat, lose myself in scenery flickering by the window, shuffle off the bus, stare in awe, shuffle back on the bus. At some point on the trip home, we saw sheep. They were marked with bright colors. I wondered how the sheep knew where to go, how whoever owned them knew where to find them. I thought about how much space we took up on that bus, how little space we took up outside of it. At the center of everything and yet nothing at all. 

Picture taken on a hike to see the Old Man of Storr