Old Friends and Ancients Lands

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I’m not one hundred percent sure how Isaac, aka Zeek, aka Hank Mardukas, and I become such close friends, or as he likes to tell to people “hetero-life-partners”. I know that when we were in elementary school we were often rivals at kickball, but somehow as we were transitioning into middle school we combined our forces, and despite life taking us on different paths, in different cities and states, and now countries, we’ve been a dynamic duo for most of our lives. We’ve also quit arguing about who is Batman to whose Robin. This is why what we got to experience last month (back when my beard and hair were out of control) was such a thrill. The minute Hayley and I were finished with our Thursday modules, we hopped into the car and headed for Glasgow where Isaac, his wife Sarah and their barely one year old son Malachi were waiting for us to begin a stunning, delicious tour of the west coast and highlands of Scotland, marked especially by the camaraderie of two young families united by such deep friendship.

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From Glasgow we meandered our way around Loch Lomand towards Oban, a picturesque port village, Hayley and I have stopped through a number of times now on our way to and from various isles, or late at night in a harrowing effort to avoid running out gas in the middle of nowhere. However, this was our first time we were able to spend a whole day there. We had a blast chasing Malachi around as he took in the sights, sounds and smells of the village as we ate lunch and explored the old tower that overlooks the bay. Malachi also got to enjoy some “Aunt Hayley” time as Isaac, Sarah and I took a tour the Oban distillery. This was Isaac’s first time trying peated whiskey. As we would soon discover, he spends so much time breathing in forest fire smoke, few whiskeys are peated enough for his pallet.

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That night we stayed at an insanely comfortable cabin on the shore of Loch Linnhe Hayley found on AirBnB. I’m not sure how Hayley consistently finds such rad places to stay in such remote areas. I’m also still not sure how we found that place in the dark without the assistance of any clear signage. The only explanation is that Sarah is a wizard. The next day we drove along Loch Ness until we reached Inverness, stopping to check out Dhuckart castle. We were not fortunate enough to see Nessy that day. But we did try some delicious Ardbeg single cask scotch and discovered that while no whiskey is smokey enough for Isaac, no whiskey is not whiskey enough for Sarah. The next day we stopped by Pitlochry, one of my favorite towns in all of Scotland on our way back to St Andrews. There we discovered that sometimes fudge donuts disappointingly don’t have fudge in them at all.

The Obsts spent the rest of the week with us in St Andrews because, alas, despite what it may seem on social media, we do have school. It was awesome to have them in St Andrews with us. Showing our friends and family around the ancient town and school we have had the privilege to call home this year is always a great pleasure, and allows to see it through fresh eyes and to appreciate it all over again. They were also able to spend a day in Edinburgh and I accompanied them to Stirling while Hayley was at work. Stirling was probably the highlight of the whole week for me. Boys (and men) need heroes, and William Wallace has been one of our heroes since Isaac and I started regularly watching Braveheart together as children. It was pretty awesome to be there when Isaac got to share the history and presence of one his heroes with his son, who happens to be named after a pretty heroic individual in his own right.

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It was sad to see the Obsts leave at the end our week together. Having friends scattered all over the globe is hard, and getting the chance to spend quality time with friends you haven’t seen in a while causes one to reflect on how much of our friends’ lives we miss. The last time we saw Malachi he was just a wrinkly little thing that could barely open his eyes, and now we’re chasing him around castles. How big is he going to be the next time we see him? Personally, it seems like just yesterday I left the comfort and familiarity of the small town in which I grew up, and in the past 8 years I have formed amazing friendships as I’ve moved from school to school, job to job, city to city, state to state, and now country to country. As Hayley wrote a few weeks ago, it is amazing how quickly we’ve formed such close friendships in the short time we’ve been here. Yet, there is something so unique, so special, and so privileged to spend time with and share new experiences with someone who has known you so well for so long.

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