Like most Caucasian Americans I grew up thinking that I was Irish. It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 that my mother sat me down one day and explained that one of her cousins had done some research and discovered that we were not Irish after all. No, it turned out that we were Scottish, and also probably a little bit black. With a sigh of regret for my lost Irish heritage, I decided to embrace my newfound nationality and ethnicity by regularly scanning the ground for four leaf clovers and reading all of Toni Morrison’s books. The end result being that most of my friends now have dried four leaf clovers affixed to their drivers licenses, and I went through college as the whitest Scottish black girl to ever get a degree in African American studies (true story).
Like any good Scottish girl traveling back to her native land I wanted to look my best, and so I packed: two pairs of strappy sandals, three strappy sundresses, one skirt, lots of tank tops, my bathing suit, some sun screen, and one sweater (just in case). It WAS June after all, but I discovered two things very quickly: a) I am unequivocally American, and b) I was going to spend the next two weeks being very, very, very cold.
For me the hardest bit is imagining never being properly hot again, or going swimming after the sun goes down, or tubing with my friends down a mountain river. I wanted to teach my hopeful-future-children how to ride waves and float on their backs in the ocean, and afterwards I wanted to take them out for ice cream while their skin is still warm and glowing from over exposure to the sun. Here are the time honored American traditions that were passed down to me through the generations, but somehow I can already feel them being devoured by the icy waters of the North Sea.