Thanks to award-winning author Kim Baker for this month's 7:30 BELLS Guest Post
sharing how bells in Edinburgh became markers in her life.
After Dia’s invitation to post, I brainstormed significant bells until I traveled to the United Kingdom with my husband and kids, and everything not to do with the trip went on the back burner. It was the first trip for our kids to my husband’s homeland. They greatly enjoyed familiarizing themselves with their British heritage (albeit mostly by sampling candy). We visited my lovely in-laws and showed the kids landmarks from my husband’s childhood.
At my request, we stopped in Edinburgh, Scotland for a couple of days between family visits. I lived in Edinburgh for a year in my early twenties, and I loved it. It was my first time far away from home, before Facebook, and Skype, and all the other ways that we can connect from great distances. I was often scared and lonely, but I learned that I could take care of myself, discover new connections, and, well, survive. It wasn’t easy.
There wasn’t a minimum wage in Scotland then, I was sick a lot, and anti-American sentiment was high. I found jobs waiting tables and tending bars in pubs. It was a 45-minute walk to each of my jobs, and it did manage to be steep climbs uphill and downhill both ways. The memories of walking to and from work in the winter are especially vivid. Darkness, cold, rain, and slippery steps in worn out work shoes. If the church bells on the Royal Mile chimed after I had passed the statue of Greyfriars Bobby I was fine, but if they chimed before, I was probably late. I usually had sniffles and chapped cheeks from the wind. I was lean from all the walking, along with not having much money for food. But, still. I was mostly happy to be there and my memories of that time are almost all happy ones. Despite being sick and hungry and poor, I felt like I was the person I wanted to be. And despite worrying about lateness, the bells reminded me that I was on my way to work. I struggled between paychecks, and I was grateful to have work.
Flash forward mumble-mumble years, and I was back there last month. It was warm and sunny. I retraced old steps from my flat to an old job with my family. I hadn’t thought of the bells in years, but they rang through the old streets of the city, and the sound stopped me in my path. Things are different now, but I still feel good about where I am in life. I’m not lean anymore, but I know my capabilities (most days). I can take care of myself (most days), and I can take care of others now as well. But even with the differences and (ahem) maturity, I’m still on a journey. When we left Edinburgh we vowed to come back again, and I can’t wait to see where I’ll be on my path the next time I hear the bells chime.
LORE OF THE BELL
Bells ring out our journeys through life
Kim's debut middle grade novel, PICKLE: THE FORMERLY ANONYMOUS PRANK CLUB OF FOUNTAIN POINT MIDDLE SCHOOL (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's), was one of the New York Public Library's Best Books for Reading and Sharing, a finalist for the 2013 CBC Children's Choice Awards, Book of the Year for 5th-6th grade readers, and the recipient of the 2013 SCBWI Crystal Kite West award. She lives in with her family in Seattle where she reads a lot, makes stuff, and thinks about ways to entertain her pets. She can often be found in the woods, despite a chronic fear of bears.
Learn more about Kim Baker at kimbakerbooks.com
7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday
of every month. Join me on September for a guest post with
award winning author Justina Chen.