There is no question that I believe in love at first sight.
Scotland had me at the moment I saw the craggy Ochil Hills. Standing and looking out of a window in the Stirling shopping mall of all places, I felt that I had found what I was looking for, that I had travelled all over the world to find.
We have lived here for 10 years and that love affair has continued unabated. From the breathtaking Highlands, to Edinburgh, the most beautiful city I have ever visited, to Glasgow, where if you even look lost, someone will come up to help you, Scotland has a kind of wealth that I'd never realised I was missing in my life. Iowa is an amazing place, and somewhere that will always be the home of my childhood, but Scotland is my Home.
When my family visits us from America, we can't help but take them on a whirlwind journey of our beloved sights. Like introducing any loves to each other, we are keen to show the best bits and take everyone on a grand tour covering as many miles and sights as we can possibly pack in, our enthusiasm (hopefully) contagious.
Its not just the sights we love. Some of the best friends I have ever had, we met here. Friends who are like family, who are there at the best and worst of times. I count myself lucky that I turned around that day 10 years ago to see those hills in that shopping mall window, if for nothing else than to watch their children grow up with mine.
But never in those ten years have I loved this country more than in the last few weeks. In truth, I don't know if I can even describe to you what its like in these last few days before Scotland votes for or against independence. I stand in open mouthed awe at the sheer level of passionate engagement - 97% of the eligible voters are registered with over 100,000 registered in the last month. The stories I have read about registering the most disenfranchised of society make my activist heart sing with pride. From the school gate to the corner shop, all everyone is talking about is what happens after the 18th of September--and not just the outcome of the vote. For the first time in my life, I have seen issues like inequality, feminism, the right to health care and climate change move right to the centre of every day conversation. They may not be academic arguments and they may not use those exact terms, but none the less they are discussions about what kind of a society we want in the future and which side can give us that.
I don't know the way the vote will go next week and as I am American, I have no say in that outcome. No matter what happens though, change of some form feels inevitable. I only hope that the country I love isn't too scarred at the end. But, I suppose in the same way one loves the rain in Scotland for the green it makes, hard conversations over the next few weeks and months will hopefully make us a better country - inside the United Kingdom or outside of it.
And I will love Scotland through those good and bad times, because that's the way true love works.