What Are You Doing Here?

by Roxane Hudon

A question many Scots, in fact, all the Scots, have asked me in complete and utter bewilderment is “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

Something about, oh, I don’t know, the constant grey skies and rain must make people  a wee bit cynical and here I clumsily thought myself to be a dark soul, pouring out dry sarcasm and negativity like a tiny cloud of doom. But, no, moving to Scotland has taught me that I’m a super positive ray of sunshine, a miniature, mobile rainbow of peace, love and harmony. Because there seems to be something very disturbing about me moving here, to Glasgow, for Glaswegians who seem to think this is the bottom of the barrel, the worst of the worst, a rainy slum village in hell and they just can’t understand why I’d move from Canada, a supposed magical land full of ehs, aboots and nice people who insist they’re not American, to this place, of shite and pish and junkies and fried food. Truth is, there is a lot of romance involved in moving abroad: tales of wanderlust and adventure, dreams of discovery, hopes for new experiences and the excitement of leaving the mundane, the ordinary, the status quo behind. Before ever setting foot here, Scotland was a place full of romance: of bearded, large-chested bravehearts in kilts, with deep, thick accents spitting out ‘aye’s, breathing whiskey on your face, of green fields, of glens, lochs, isles and moors, of bagpipes and emotionally-infused music sung by sad Scottish men. I had travelled here before, and there was always a warm place in my heart for this tiny nation. Of course, reality has a funny way of pushing romance in a corner. It’s frightening how easily you start settling into routine, into worrying about the same things you worried about back home, as if leaving would magically make you richer, happier, sexier and saner. And then you start wondering what you’re doing and stressing out about making every minute an epic adventure, because you left everything behind so it better be worth it. And then everyone is throwing this aggressive “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” your way, and you start wondering the same thing or shrugging your shoulders as a response, because you’re dirt poor and you don’t even know anymore. So, I’m tired of answering that question, of having to explain how, despite my girlish young looks and infantile way of dressing, I am not “studying here” or on a “Eurotrip.” I am aging and wilted, confused and tired, and like our ancestors before us, like the men who left your Old World to find mine, I am simply getting lost looking for spices.

 Important 2013 update: I’ve actually moved here, because calling someone a “sound cunt” is a compliment.  And, also, to defend Americans. USA! USA! USA!

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