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The airport. The sun isn't even out yet. So many things could happen. My passport might be rejected when I arrive, because it expires too soon. The employee said it shouldn't, but what if he made a mistake? What if my luggage gets lost? What if I miss a connection and get stranded? What if we crash in the middle of the ocean? What would my friends think of me if I died?
They can't understand the pain in my stomach and the buzzing in my head, and I don't blame them. Their lives are secure and under control. What I'm doing is pure insanity, the result of a dellirium, a frenzy, a ridiculous dream. A guy like me shouldn't have ever done this, not me. I don't deserve it. I could never become the Ambassador.
Long and boring flights. Hours spent waiting in terminals. Lines, tickets, passport, seatbelt, folding tray, upright position. I'm here now, but so much could still go wrong. What if my nervousness makes me suspicious? What if someone snuck something into my bag? I'll never feel at ease until I finally step across the border.
It seems too unreal, absurd and unreasonable, but I somehow made it. I'm actually here, and I don't even know exactly how I should be feeling. Just let me breathe, just let me be aware of my surrounding, just let me enjoy the hereness and the nowness of it while I can. The journey isn't quite over yet, but now I'm absolutely sure that this is really happening.
Funny to think that I had the longest and most complicated travel, and I was the one who made it without a hitch. Two of my friends won't be here until tomorrow. My ride to Aberfeldy will take a couple more hours than expected due to car problems. I should be the one facing loads of hurdles, not them! They don't deserve it.
Either way, all I can do is wait. It will only take a single message to make me jump off of my seat and race awkwardly towards the pick-up zone.
I'm reaching the pick-up zone now, I'm almost there, just wait one more minute. I'm there now. It's them. I've seen their faces a few times before, but, for so many years, their presence was nothing but text to me. Now, they're in the flesh, standing next to the car, rearranging the luggage to open up space for mine. They have actually made it all the way here just because of me? Am I even worth the hassle?
Apparently I am. I'm here now, and we're chatting as if we've been intimate friends for all our lives — because we actually have.
It's raining in Scotland, but I don't mind. The view from the road exhilarates me. Even a quick stop at a supermarket is fun and exciting to my fresh, impressionable eyes. My friends chat with me as we cross the highways, bridges and country roads towards our final destination. Even though I'm eager to see the place where we're staying, this trip is a moment I won't forget.
The windy roads eventually turned into the streets of Aberfeldy, and as we cross the bridge over River Tay, we finally reach our destination. I'm enchanted by the atmosphere, the sight of the distant hills, and the house where we're staying. It's finally time to park the car and go outside.
Inside the house, we meet another friend, who had been waiting for us through the evening. Another person, another face, who materialises after years of a geographically distant friendship. I feel embraced by warm, gentle sensation. They might think I'm dead tired after such a trip and eager to find a bed, but I actually want to savour every second of this evening and every inch of this place.
We go out to find something to eat in the nearby pub, and are welcomes by an unexpected musical performance. The sound of music from my home country overtakes me, and the emotions finally come out. I'm home.
It's late, and everybody needs a rest. My pillow is wet with tears: something in me still refuses to believe this is real. It's too good, it's a reward that I almost feel undeserving. But it's real, and I made it happen.
I'm awake, and the Scottish sun is out to welcome me. It's my first full day in this place, and I have no idea what it's going to bring, but I want to seize it. I need to make the most out of this and every single day ahead of me. I have no time to lose.
Still, the group isn't complete. The two remaining friends should be finally on their way, and they face problems of their own. Their arrival is delayed against their will, and we await for their signal to go pick them up in the train station. They're absent, but not for long.
We're finally on our way to pick them up. The weather isn't that much brighter, but the scenery still enchants me, and the eagerness to finally see the group complete keeps my spirits high.
We're already at the station when the train arrives.
They're here, and they greet me warmly. I feel like my place is truly, legitimately here, and there's no point in wondering if I deserve this or not. This is perfect. This is what friendship is all about. Even another stop at the supermarket is a moment of fun for me. Maybe they think I'm eager to have some more exciting times, but every single sight an sound is new to me. I'm a child again.
There're no point in holding back my emotions. I'm brimming with excitement and joy. The trip back is now more exciting than it could have ever been, and I can't wait until we're all together in the house.
How long as it been? About 16 years now? For that long, images like these only resided in my most remote, extravagant fantasies and daydreams. I never thought it could actually happen. It took a long time, it took a great amount of effort and planning, and my anxiety and nervousness didn't make the process any easier, but it's true now. They're all here. We're together. We're a group of friends, and our only purpose here is to enjoy each other's company for as much as we can. Life is amazing, sometimes.
The frenzied excitement subsides, we have dinner together, and it's time to embark on our weekly little ritual, the thing that brought us together in the first place. We're standing before the very thing that turned us into such a tight-knit group of friends, and gave me the will to come all the way here. The cycle is complete. Child, teenager and adult are a single person now inside me.
You know, this is kinda crazy.
Fernie Canto: Composition, arrangement, production, cover drawing, keyboard, flute, synth programming
Endless thanks to the five friends who have welcomed me and made me feel at home in a foreign country, and provided me one of the most intense, memorable and happy weeks of my life.
Extra thanks to Out of Abingdon, Ogúhuês, Leandro de los Santos, Carlos Zanettini, Marcelo Scanzani, Zacarias Bugani, SVQO, Ex, Frio de Maio, George Christian and every other musician and artist who has given me their inspiration and friendship. If I've ommitted anyone, it's just because memory fails me when I most need it.