Have you ever had a dream? Of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sort, that is. Not one in which Kate Upton is wearing a bikini and applying sunscreen to your hard-to-reach spots.
A life goal, a mission you strive to complete. An answer for your teachers' inevitable question of what you want to be when you grow up. Or a first date's inquiry about where you see yourself in 10 years.
Well, I did.
And I achieved it.
I have been living and working in New York City for 17 months, earning my limited keep as a technology news reporter, slipping easily in and out of love with this crazy, mixed-up town.
There's so much more left, though; more plans, more goals, more ambitions. If only I could muster up the talent to snag an Esquire magazine writing gig, where I'd lunch in Central Park and call Scott Raab and Tom Junod friends. There are Saturday Night Live tapings, Broadway acting debuts, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades, book signings.
But in the meantime, I'll fulfill another long-time aspiration — 3,260 miles away in Scotland.
Scotland: Home to Robert Burns, J.M. Barrie, the Highlands, the Lowlands, bagpipe bands, Sean Connery, whisky, William Wallace, David Tennant's right eyebrow, David Tennant's left eyebrow, come to that.
And, as of February ... Me.
If there's one thing you should know about me (aside from my undying devotion to adult-contemporary crooner Barry Manilow), it's that when I fall, I fall hard. And a little more than four years ago, I fell for Scotland. Cobblestone streets, brogue accents, castle turrets, rolling green hills speckled with fluffy white sheep; a sort of kindness and excitement utterly foreign to the rest of the world.
And with its distinct ties to literature and entertainment — as well as the daily penguin parade at the Edinburgh Zoo — I am about 97 percent sure Scotland was established 10,000 years ago with me in mind.
The anglophilia began in high school, probably during my first viewing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail in the 10th grade. At the time, I couldn't pick a crumpet out of a biscuit lineup, and had no understanding of the stark difference between being British and being English. (Yes, it really matters.) But I knew I wanted to experience a place where people talked with a lilt and The Beatles hummed their first harmony.
A half-cocked intention to spend a college semester studying abroad in London slipped by, and my yearning to visit Dear Old Blighty grew stronger. Finally, the day came: 'Twas the summer of 2009, and my bags were packed for a two-week cruise around the British Isles. England, Ireland, Scotland, and about four seconds of France. I've yet to top that vacation.
In the years since, Scotland became more than a hopeful future destination wedding location. It slowly — but very surely — turned into another goal, another mission.
And another occasion to feel so overwhelmed with emotion and stress and nerves and excitement that I almost simultaneously burst into tears and vomit on the L train.
Only 79 days remain in New York City — a sort of death sentence. Less than three months to check off all of my NYC bucket list items, all the while mentally, emotionally, and physically (possession-wise) preparing to leave my family, friends, co-workers, temporary puppy roommate, and life behind.
Still, the decision was easy: Spend [at least] a year in Scotland on my own, or tell my nephew in 40 years that my greatest regret was being too afraid to take a chance on a dream.
Lang may yer lum reek!
Stephanie Mlot writes a regular column for fredericknewspost.com.