photograph by rugosa rosa
Sometimes a slab of time will pass and I won't feel a part of Oxford, even if, like right now, I can look out onto the dark, neat quadrangle lawn, and follow a student begrudgingly push open the lodge door. I will be here, though not part of it. It like it's over my shoulder, but remote. Then I have these times, when I almost want to apologise for not being adequately grateful to it.
Take this evening. After a bit of carry-on from me, I agreed to give Ultimate Frisbee a go. With a toe out the door, I had assumed my days of geek sports here were over, but it was bright and warm and it won't be so for much longer. In fact, the wind is already a little barer. As I rode up to the field, I rolled my eyes like a grotty kid, having spotted a young woman in a basketball outfit, practising. I had specifically told roperinerer that I was not up for opposing any 'bronzed, well-groomed American women of German decent'. They smash it in team sports. I asked her where she was from. Turned out she was Canadian so I made my way over.
There were nine of us - three Saffas, three Mrrkans, a Turk, a Canook and a Skip. Mostly boys. Two very, very tall ones. The game was bloody good fun. I often forget how much I love team sports. They're the best. Straight after, it started to rain rain-shards: slanty, slappy little shooty things. So many of them, and so thick! This all meant one thing: I had to take my girly bike to the max. She's named something like Maroon Dreamrider or Happy Challenger. I can never remember. I belted it - illegally, I should add (honk, honk) - straight through the University Parks, ripping up that central clay path, whipping past the cricket pavilion, dodging the odd mental poodle, and saluted all the way by the wooden benches of the dead. The sky was dirty-white until that last strip before the horizon when it became the clearest, prettiest see-through blue. (I've said this before, but England skies are marvellous.)
The rain rods wet me right through which made me start to laugh. I saw my year one primary school teacher coming closer through the windscreen wipers of my Mum's lazy, bronze Peugeot. She had her waterproof jacket pulled up over her happy-squishy face. She yelled that school had been rained out and made a 'turn around' motion with her finger. I fanged it up the walled bitumen path by Lady Margaret Hall. It's right near my house.
After I had showered, and sat down for dinner in front of a British bake-off show (so good), I realized that I was supremely happy. It was not that happiness that I sought to hold onto. And the realization did not make it go away either. It has not made it go away.
So, yes, thank you, Oxford, you thoroughly odd, magical place. You never demand that I love and respect you, you simply make it worthwhile when I do.