Inverness, the Truman Show
Inverness is a little town populated by Polish, Spanish, Indians, Pakistanis, some Scottish, thousands of seagulls, many crowes, countless midges, plentiful of cats, a few spiders, lots of mushrooms and a monster called Nessi. Inverness is the capital of the Highlands. As a central location, it has a mall and also, lots of hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts waiting to be stuffed with tourists. I stayed in one of those when I arrived here 5 months ago. Back then, I was a tourist. Now, I am another Inverness citizen. I have a job, I need vitamin D and I refuse to use umbrellas.
I work in the bar of a hotel, nearby the river Ness, a waterway sewn by several bridges. Some of them drive their roots into the water, others just bounce up and down in the air when people walk through them. Unlike other river towns, in Inverness, water runs fast and straight and time goes slow and in circles.
Illustration by Gema Galán
Soon, I discover that Inverness is a bike town. I buy a second hand bike and we never separate from each other. I fall down, flirt, eat, get bugs in my eyes, get shouted by unsatisfied tight pedestrians and pedall against strong winds with her. Sometimes, I even forget she is a bike and I walk besides her to recall the feeling of walking with a friend.
In the mornings, when I ride my bike by the river, a construction worker stares at me. Then, in the afternoon he comes to my bar with his computer and we chat “I saw you today again,” he says. “Really? I didn’t see you this time,” I answer. “Yes, I was at the end of the bridge and you passed walking and leading your bike with one hand”
After crossing one of the bouncing bridges, I always check out the cemetery and the board with the soup of the day from next door, a small organic cafe with delicious home made cakes. Then, I ride through the Post Office Avenue –where there is no post office- and the Baron Taylor’s Street –where there is a tailor store- and I reach the souvenirs’ store where sometimes I buy postcards and stamps. The owner, standing at the door, sees me and asks “how are you today, madam?” “I’m fine, thank you,” I answer smiley. As every other day.
Some metres further, the Inverness tourist guide, a blond man who wears a kilt under any weather conditions, is standing in front of the tourist office. He is cheerful, a joker full of vitality at any time of the day. I look at him and he answers with an eyebrows raise and a white smile.
I check with the clock tower if I have time to read before going to work. I do. Once layed down on a bench near the football field, an usual customer finds me and tells me how hard his day was at work. “See you later at the bar,” he says at the end.
When I’m going to work my bike starts to feel weird. “It might be a puncture. You should take it to the store around the corner,” one of my friends advise me. I go there and find out that the man who is going to fix my bike is the tourist guide dressing with different clothes and even different expression on his face. “You are…?!” “Yes, I am,” he says very serious.
At night, after work, I go into a pub, a guy stops me and shouts “hello, cyclist!”
“What?,” I say speechless.
“I see you everyday with your bike. You pass by my street”
After some months living in a house near the river, I move. My landlord is the guy who plays guitar on Saturdays in my bar. The night porter of the hotel cleans my roof and my collegues from work are my neighbors.
Wonderful, pass me the wine.