A Place to Coll

10 (GM 10). Clabhach, with ruined dwelling in middle foreground, 2009.

The Tiny Island in the
Middle of My Last Name

I’d already been around the block a few times when somebody commented about the Isle of Coll, off the coast of Scotland. Yet to set foot on this tiny speck of land half a world away from my place of birth, I fancy that it shares a lost link with my ancestors. Or something.
The Celt, the Norse, and the Vikings all battled and took brief residence there. But apart from 220 year-round er Collers? – whose descendants would rather get lost out in the world than to be bound by its rocky shores – Coll has few followers of note. Beside us, of course.
But despite dreaming of visiting it, I’ve hardly made any real plans, so don’t take this humble elegy to a spot I know little about as a crass infomercial; we could bet our passports that no resident is likely to read this post, or care about my personal inkling in writing about it.
Still, everyone needs a dream or two to invoke, when all else around seems so bleak and hopeless, and mine may as well be the Isle of Coll. I wonder whether it’s the bucolic vibe that surrounds the place, or its foreignness, what propels me to dream about it, when all goes quiet.

Which is surprising since I’d be always inclined to favor much warmer temperatures, rather than the brisk walks recommended on every brochure and Website about the island. It may also be a certain melancholy about its isolation and insularity what appeals to me.
There’s no need to bore you into oblivion about some pseudo-ancestry and possible connection to such alien geography. There’s very little of
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that emotional universe that I personally own or even begin to understand. Thus this may be a way to share with you some sliver of meaning borrowed from the outskirts of my being.
As I’ve said, someday I’ll take that three-hour ferry ride from Oban, and brave the constant breeze, just to strike a closer acquaintance with the land of my father’s name. Perhaps a time-stamped visa will be a theme to casually exchange accented rapports with the locals.
If I ever get there, sharing this corner of my identity with readers far and away, mostly of whom I’ll never meet, will be central to my thoughts. Then, short of sending postcards, looking back at this moment will be just like writing a quick note to each one of those I’d have left behind.

(*) Originally published on Feb. 19, 2013.

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