Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Oxford is a state of mind

As proof that this blog does not forget its roots (aka its title), I interrupt the scheduled summary of my holidays with a few scattered thoughts that have been going through my head recently, things that I have been mulling over far more than is good for me, and which have led to a shocking epiphany (albeit one that had been building up for a while). It's happened. I got over it. I don't care that I'm not in Oxford any more. I don't feel like I am in exile here, or just in a kind of suspended status until some unlikely return. I live here, my life is here, it's not a bad place to live, and I can just get on with it.

Shocking, I know. And about time. I'm not sure quite what did it. I guess partly it was, inevitably, the passing of time, and with it the increasing feelings of familiarity with my surroundings, the people here, the places to go and the roads to get lost on.

Also something (the umbilical cord?) sort of snapped when I was last in the UK in July, and I was only in Oxford very fleetingly - and it didn't hurt. Unlike the other times. I didn't mind that I wasn't there for longer. I could acknowledge that though it was an enormous part of my life, and the home of some of the people I love most, it was no longer *my* home, and I just had to deal with it. And it felt weird, but also a little liberating.

I guess this last part also has a lot to do with it - who is or isn't there. I think it may not be a coincidence that these revelations have been building up over the span of a few weeks when first Rob, then Nick, have moved out of Oxford, and if they ever return, it won't be as students. It's not quite that my years there acquire meaning only via boyfriends - that would be a bit excessive even for me. But, ultimately, a lot of said years were shared with them, and memories, and growing up both academically and as people, in the good and the bad.

Seeing Rob leave (well, metaphorically, since I wasn't there of course) really hit home, as the last link to all the Catz years and of course a strong emotional tie to the place - there is really no denying now that we are grown up and done and moving on to whatever comes next.

And now Nick is leaving too, and it's like I'm leaving all over again, since so much of my current/more recent life is so tightly bound with his. And it's sad - it really was the last thread hanging - but it doesn't hurt, and that for me is a big achievement.

And of course I still care about the people who are in Oxf, and want to know the exciting things that happen to them, and want to be there to lend a friendly ear/shoulder when needed, but the fact that I won't necessarily know about everything that happens every day, the little things - I don't mind. That is what happens when you move away. It does not change the underlying strength of the friendship. My friends will always be my friends, wherever we are, and in whatever way we manage to communicate.

Oxford is a state of mind now: most of the people who made it what it has been for me have left too. I've had a year here to develop friendships and networks and interests and love for Princeton, and it's about time I started nurturing these rather than feeding off the past...


superdinosaurboy said...

This is a sweet post.

Sometimes I wish D.Phils were just a state of mind too...

Fuffa said...

what a nice and heartfelt post. Now I want to come to NJ and hug you:)

Ra said...

Aw thank you darling :-)
I think you *should* come to NJ, even if you don't hug me!!

Fuffa said...

maybe when Checca&Chiara graduate from high school? the three of us couldo go, and I could accompany the two young girls as the Older Responsible One, eighteenth-century style. I bet we wouldn't make it to Rome:)
But you're right I really would love to come to visit you.