Tradition has a lot of names: superstition, ritual, custom, mores… It can affect what we do, the way we interact with the world, and sometimes even our success.
Today I said goodbye to Scotland. The only person in my study abroad class still in the country, I had an entire day to kill in the beautiful and now-familiar city of Edinburgh. Earlier this morning, my classmates and professors each boarded their respective planes and flew back to the familiar, but I’m still here, wandering about the city.
Last night, we had our final dinner in the city, but it was unceremonious and loud, and when people left the restaurant it was like any other night in the city. People flew out of the country with an Irish goodbye giving them the only closure they needed.
For me, that wasn’t enough. As I wandered through the city this morning, completely on my own, my body pulled me in familiar patterns. Without noticing it, I walked to Black Medicine, J.K. Rowling’s old writing spot where I spent every morning of my trip writing with my T.A. and drinking coffee. Drinking a final coffee there, I found myself able to let go of that tradition with warmth.
For the rest of the day, I walked through the city, following the rituals I had acquired through the course of my trip without noticing it. I went to the ice cream shop that my friends and I visited every day and ordered the only two flavors that I hadn’t tried. I walked to a final performance venue and saw my last show of the 2017 Festival Fringe. I went back to my first Scottish pub and drank a final rum and coke. My daily ritual complete, I walked at last to the airport.
Saying goodbye is a tradition that I have come to cherish, having lived or studied in so many states and countries. For some people, leaving is easiest without ceremony, but ceremony brings me closure.
In the theatre, tradition is often blended and confused with superstition. However, tradition is a critical part of the creation of theatre because it emotionally and mentally prepares an actor for what is coming up.
As I sit on the plane, fleeing the rose gold sunrise, I’m realizing how important it was to have the chance to say farewell to all of the important memories I’ve had. In farewells, tradition brings things to a close. Last night, things went on as usual, and none of us could quite believe it was over. Now, having completed my ritual of goodbyes, I might at last be able to say goodbye to Edinburgh and cheerfully greet a new and exciting semester at UNM.
Written by Christine Anderson