Sunday, 10 January 2010

Departure and Arrival: In Which I Shake the Metaphorical Etch-a-sketch

I've done it. Shaken my life up. If my life is an etch-a-sketch, all the grainy bits have retreated from the screen, waiting to be zingingly redrawn. Self-actualization via Oxford.

I'm in England, jet-lagged as anything and feverishly noting that my internal dialogue is already working on a sturdy English accent. It's 4:38 at home, 9:38 pm here, and I think perhaps I need sleep. Having barrelled through security with bated breath and false confidence, I managed to keep myself alive during my flight. True, during takeoff I did experience the OH-MY-GOD-I'M-GOING-TO-DIE hyperventilitating fit. But Katherine Heigel, my seat-mate from Chicago, and the captain's lilting voice got me through.

At least until the bloody turbulence.

Ah, well. I slept through most of the bone-rattling wind-bursts and awoke an hour off from London. There followed a hectic trek/drag/trudge through Heathrow's dungeon-maze to the bus station. Where I witnessed a sign.


I literally did a happy dance on the curb, betwist a British backpacking couple and a broad Pakistani bus attendant. Not YIELD, but GIVE WAY. And yes, my life has given way - given way to plunge me into a foreign culture that delights me to the marrow. The bus driver drove on the wrong side, several passersby mentioned tea, and "lifts" rather than elevators abounded.

It's probably the jet lag talking, but I was ready to hug even the pigeons for standing witness to my arrival to jolly old England.

And St. Clare's: Abandoned by my cabbie at the end of a dangerously frosted Bardwell Road, I yanked my suitcases after and laughed aloud. At one point a mother and her young daughter stuck their heads out a flat window to ask me "if I was quite all right." I looked the fool, but felt better when I reached 18 Bardwell and the perpetually cheerful Brit Manuela, as well as a few kids from USD who are already shaping up to be what the British might call "mates."

Daina, for example, saved my skin at least 12 times when I almost forgot to look right for cars on our exploratory walk down Banbury toward the city center. Things I found on our walk that I love: the red mailboxes, the red phonebooths (!), the red doors, all the churches, the small Brit children, the looks of the many pubs! Ivy, signs that promise "Humps for 55 yards," Nanny911-style taxi's, the little British dog outside the co-op!

Really though. I can barely contain myself.

Other news: My roommate is Venezuelan. I keep forgetting her name, she's a twin, and she makes me wish I remembered my Spanish classes. Also: shower = odd. Just flat floor with a drain and spray hand-thinger. AND YIKES IS THE WATER COLD! Must toughen up. "Mustn't grumble," as the Brits say.

I'm manically sleep-deprived so this probably has made little sense. But the snow is pretty, and I'm in England, so even if I miss home and get confused as to why the French boy I met at dinner seems so UTTERLY attractive, I'm bound to be crazily falling for Oxford.

Shaking the Etch-a-sketch is a tricky business.

1 comment:

  1. Allison, beware of rabbits who are late running around Oxford. BTW, what is wrong with an attractive guy that is French?