Mum and I drove past it on Tuesday, after having spent the weekend at my cousin’s wedding in Belgium. Since we were in the country, we figured it was a good opportunity to see my childhood best friend and then drive up to Flanders to see my brother. And Mum said, ‘Do you want to go see the house?’.
I didn’t know how I’d feel about it, but I knew I wanted to see it. The people who bought it from us — and made tons of changes, such as installing a pony paddock in my favourite field, where I used to read books and take walks — got divorced some years ago and sold the house for a huge loss. I don’t know who lives there now, but they have children: there were toys in the garden, and, I was pleased to see, they’d kept our old trampoline that dad brought home as a surprise one day.
We peered at the house through the fence, like thieves checking the perimeter, wondering if it’s worth the risk. Exiled. But I made that choice five years ago – it’s just weird getting the opportunity to go back, and see what you gave up.
The whole time I was in Belgium it felt like I’d stepped off my favourite carousel, and was now trying to hop back on but couldn’t settle into the rhythm of it anymore. My life moves to a different tune now. I asked myself constantly if I missed it — and people have been asking me that too. Would you ever move back? Do you ever miss it?
And the thing is, I want to say that I miss it — when I saw the rolling hills of the Ardennes, and walked into my old school where I bumped into my principal, and shopped on the high street where we used to go for lunch — but in reality… I don’t. I got on the plane to Scotland with such a solid feeling of purpose: I was going home.
I’m grateful for the upbringing I had, and for the place I grew up in. It forged my character, my personality, it made me innately trilingual. But there was a definite time limit on that part of my existence on this earth, and I left my little hometown at precisely the right time. I found my spiritual home in the sun-dappled Highlands of this windswept country, and I’m proud to call the splendid city of Edinburgh my home. This place, it doesn’t just speak to me, it fucking sings to me. Home home home. These words are buried deep inside my bones. I’d die if I had to move away.
But this being said, last weekend stirred up some powerful emotions. All the things you leave behind, they’re always there somewhere for you to revisit, sometimes even in a physical place. It’s a good thing, though: it allows you to measure how much you really want the life you chose for yourself.
There is comfort in the familiar, and it’s easy leading a life of routine and tradition. You don’t have to ask yourself too many questions, and you know exactly what your place is in the community. But does that mean you really chose it? I chose to deviate from the path. At times it was hard, disheartening, confusing. And yet, at no point over the last five years did I ever doubt I’d made the wrong choice in moving away.
Yesterday I showed a new friend around Edinburgh (hi Lucia!) and I felt such a pride in this city. Home home home. I cry tears of joy at random when this realisation hits me. I never believed much in destiny when I was younger, but I’m a convert now. I was always meant to be here. That is the one certainty I have in life. Through all the storms, this was my anchor: that I was meant to one day call Scotland home, for this is where my destiny and my happiness lie.
Whatever higher power there is out there — call it what you will — I thank it daily for giving me this life.
(P.S.: Mali says hi.)
Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
- 100g (3.5 oz) vegan chocolate, either dark or milk chocolate
- 1 tin of chickpeas
- 1 packet (1 tsp) cream of tartar
- Sweetener of choice (optional): either a drizzle of maple syrup, a good pinch of stevia or a few teaspoons of sugar
- Open a tin of chickpeas. Pour the brine (aquafaba) into a medium-sized bowl and save the chickpeas (I like eating them in a salad, or you could make some hummus).
- Using an electric whisk, beat the aquafaba for about 10-15 minutes, or until stiff peaks begin to form. The brine will act exactly like egg whites: first it becomes white and foamy, then the texture becomes denser until, after a while, it will become stiff enough that you can tip the bowl upside down and the whisked aquafaba remains in place.
- Add the cream of tartar to this in the last minutes of whisking. Place the whisked aquafaba in the fridge.
- Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. After a few minutes, the chocolate should be melted; stir with a wooden spoon to make it silky and glossy. Set aside to cool; if you are using any sweetener, add it now.
- When the chocolate is cooled but still melted (you don’t want it to be too pasty — on the other hand, warm chocolate will ruin the recipe) add a dollop of the whisked aquafaba. Gently, VERY gently, fold it into the chocolate. Continue this process with the rest of the aquafaba until there is none left. You will notice the mousse will gain a lot of volume. It’s important that you complete this step slowly so as not to beat the air out of the whisked aquafaba.
- Pour the mousse into 4 little pots or cups, and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to set before serving.
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Love and cookies,