Footwear had been the last thing on my mind when I’d left the house. I’d automatically slipped on my battered old converse and sought some much needed air. My mind re-played the telephone call on a loop and my feet – neglected – had to fend for themselves. The blast of a car horn yanked me to the surface. My heart pounded – readying for fight or flight – and the hot tingle of adrenalin filled my limbs. I had walked to the very edge of the city and ahead of me was the trail to Arthur’s Seat. For three years it had been on my ‘to-do list’ and something or someone else had always stood between me and it.
I made a strong start – my stride confident and long. The rain from the night before soon had me questioning my decision. The well trodden pathways were slick with mud and several times my feet slid from under me – my shoes like mud skis. I began to take note of the footwear of the walkers passing me. It became a game of distraction – walking boots, wedge shoes, trainers, walking boots, open toed sandals. Many of the feet I noted were on their way back down and this spurred me on – if they could do it so could I.
The wind had picked up and as I gingerly made my way across a narrow ridge I felt it nudge at me. I planted my feet and took the opportunity to close my eyes and breathe deeply. Arthur’s Seat still lay far ahead and above. As I looked up the wind grabbed at my hood and I lost my balance. Crouching down I steadied my mind – this was a journey I had to complete. If this was a test I would finish triumphant. The incline steepened and several times my feet slipped from under me. Each time I stopped momentarily to gather myself and to choose the best spot to place my next step.
The muddy path now behind me I was faced with a stairway of smooth rock. My confidence grew as my rubber soles gripped the hard surface. The whole time I climbed I pushed aside thoughts of having to clamber back down. Now all that lay between me and the finishing line was an outcrop of jagged rocks. I attempted to pick out a route several times but turned back when nerves got the better of me. As I stood contemplating the rolling hillside and the possibility of having to turn back, two teenagers wearing shoes similar to mine strode down the rocky incline. They looked strong and tall and they owned every footstep – just like that they were down and already a long way below me. Spurred on by their obvious lack of fear I reassessed the terrain ahead of me and decided to choose a route and run at it – I had not come this far to turn back defeated.
The view of the city below was beautiful and the emotions I had pushed down with every step taken bubbled to the surface. Tears were not enough and I screamed at the sky. The wind caught my pain and carried it away. I loved this place. I had made it my home and I would not leave. They couldn’t make me give up everything I had created. I would return for the funeral and to help tie up any loose ends but that was it. They were all old enough to take responsibility for themselves and to choose their own destinations.
Secure in my decision I stood with my feet firmly planted and my arms raised above my head. I could not see my smile but the ache in my cheeks told me that it was radiant.