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You don’t belong here

It doesn’t happen that often any more. It happens less here, in Scotland, where I have chosen to live, raise my children, put down roots. I’m pretty used to it - “you‘re not from here” “where are you really from?” “you sound right but you look wrong” most of my life. It was a defining feature of my child & teen years. Here, in Scotland, I know that as a white skinned middle class technically British woman I’m not meant to speak about these things. It is not my space to do so here in the U.K. at all. Even less so here. “You English ****”

Well OK. There are far more important conversations to be had. I agree. However the last couple of weeks, I‘ve more than the usual amount of reminders that my roots here are not deep and I only belong as long as I toe the line, combined with a sharp jaggy homesickness, and it’s the same old pain. We can not make a space for you.

I’m not Scottish. No.

I’m a “New Scot”. I’m proud to be. Scotland has a beautiful and inclusive side to it, far from the “you have to choose Celtic or Rangers” “‘my father and my father’s father and his before belonged to this land and you may never consider it home”, miles away from “this is not your story”, these sounds do not belong in your mouth, these birds that take flight when we speak are but egg like pebbles to break your teeth. You are not allowed these words, this story, this space. Here, I “look right, sound wrong”. Inside, I’m a kaleidoscope of different soils where I have taken root, been uprooted from, tumbleweeded through.

Far from that, here, more often than that closed door parochial “your tree does not grow here” I have found open armed community, friendships, interested in varied unstraightforward lives. In what people who have inhabited multiple cultural spaces can bring. Accepting that where someone is now does not mean that is where they always were. Interested in their stories. In this year of Stories in Scotland 2022, I hope we - newly grafted and long standing Scots - listen beyond fiction. To each other’s stories, with open hearts. We are here together, growing on this land, some are here a short while, some for the rest of their days, others have been nourished by this soil and planted elsewhere. Rather than try to weed each other out, let’s grow around each other together. We can all belong here. We can all make room for each other. Mono crops fail over time. Being different helps us thrive.

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