Journey Walk: Day 2

Punting on a slightly overcast day in Oxford.

The downpour of rain at 4:30am this morning exhilarated me despite the early hour.  Normally, 4:30am is a rough time where I’m trying to locate all the clothing I need for the day and make sure that I’m fully dressed for work.  I can only attribute my elation this morning to the fact that it made me nostalgic for my summer abroad and the many misty mornings I spent reading and writing at Oxford.

Sitting on the couch watching the rain and writing this morning, I realized that I’ve been reminiscing quite a bit about that trip as of late.  I don’t mean wistfully reflecting over a photo album every once in awhile or stalking my own pictures on Facebook from that summer, no, I mean having flashbacks and daydreams on an hourly basis.

I drink black coffee, I think of the quad in front of the Hall.  I go for a run and the trail doesn’t compare to Port Meadow and the Oxford Canal.  I go to the grocery and look for the covered market off of Cornmarket Street.  The weekend rolls around and I’m wondering where my train tickets are so I can hop off to London, Scotland, Frankfurt, or some other locale just a skip away.

Beautiful architecture was commonplace at every turn. It’s easy to see even from this one picture why I’m homesick from my temporary home away from home.

Sadly, I had cease my listless reflections  in order to be responsible and head to work, but all day I questioned why I couldn’t stop thinking about a trip I took three years ago and why it’s all coming back to me now after so much time has passed (I didn’t even have a romantic “Under the Tuscan Sun” fling while in Italy!)

A storm brewing on the edges of Old Sarum.

It was not the first time I been to Europe or traveled somewhere exotic for an extended period (I’m aware that this makes me sound over-privileged, and I certainly was in this regard), but this particular trip was an entire semester abroad with my school before my senior year of college.  We traveled and studied for four weeks on the road nonstop across Western Europe and then studied in residence at Worcester College, Oxford University for six weeks.  It was amazing, but after my other trips I went on with my daily life and only thought about it when I came across mementos from the trip.  Why can’t I move on?  Why do I keep having these crazy ideas that one day I’ll live there and recreate the experience I once had (which in all honesty probably couldn’t be repeated if I tried)?

Beauty is as simple as walking around the corner here.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize that it wasn’t even the trip or the exotic locations that made it so life-changing.  It was more that this trip was the first time in my life that I completely devoted myself to enjoying life, writing and intellectual creativity.  Usually I’m so rigidly tenacious, always the first to arrive at work and the last to leave.  Always giving so much that I have nothing left to give to my own life.  Sure, I had school deadlines on the trip and sure, planning my own travel and managing finances could be stressful from time to time, but for the most part, I REALLY enjoyed every day.  I didn’t worry as much as I usually did.  More importantly, though, I wrote everyday for uninterrupted hours at a time and didn’t care if I was selfish, because everyone else was too involved in their own lives to notice anyway.

A day in my life at Worcester commences at an early hour (I say it in present tense because often I’ll pretend I’m still there in my “Alternate Reality” where only the ideal happens).  I never have to set an alarm, plus I don’t have one anyway.  Usually the breeze and the smell of cut grass from the window wakes me up.  I strap on my tennis shoes and go for a run through the athletic facility, gardens or Oxford Canal usually under a thin mist or fog.  I don’t stop running until go straight up the stairs of the quad to the Hall where they are just serving breakfast.  They have a full smorgasbord of breakfast delights ranging from fried eggs to ham to cereal, but most importantly, bottomless cups of coffee or tea.  I drink Earl Grey to feel English (even though I probably don’t drink it correctly) and read a couple of chapters for my first class.

Writing and wine at lunchtime in Venice at the Peggy Guggenheim.

Before I can even shower and change for my class, I have a conversation with a fellow student on Medieval History and a professor on Abnormal Psychology over another cup of coffee. Leisurely, I stroll around Cornmarket Street and the covered market in the mist and maybe even take a walk up to the top of Saxon Tower. Before class, I write a couple pages about the trip and watch the foreign crowd walking by become more familiar each day.
I’ve never felt more creative and more artistically and intellectually driven in my life.  Being around art all of the time, being able to write between classes, on trains or at the Worcester pub made it seem real, made it seem possible that I could really be a writer and make it my day job.  Sure, it’s easy to be a writer in that environment.  Who wouldn’t have something to say when surrounded by art, history and intellectuals 24-7, but here I still have plenty to say, I just lack the time to say it.

St. Peter's Basillica

As if it wasn’t beautiful enough, this ray of light came through as I was passing by.

It’s very simple actually, now that I’ve typed away at this for far too long.  I miss the live I led there.  I miss the creative, artistic and intellectual community.  I yearn for the  hours of time to think, write, wonder feel that it was OK to spend time doing that.  It wasn’t only allowed, it was pretty much expected that you take in the world and live life to the fullest while you were there.   My expectations are different now, though.  Here, I need to be responsible, I need to provide for myself, but how long can I keep it up?  How long can continue to live my dream life in an Alternate Reality before it breaks me?  After two years spent in a pretty rough area and under high-pressure circumstances post-college, I realized that at any moment there very well could be no later.

I could live at the Louvre. Screw sustenance, just give me a pencil and paper.

I give up being responsible.  I’d much prefer to be money-poor (and I’ve been there before) and life-rich (getting there).  I can’t really go off the deep end and quit or fail at my job until I get fired.  I realize that.  I’m a sensible person (who needs health insurance, shelter and massive amounts of ice cream), but I’m no longer going to kill myself at my 9-5.  Instead, I’m going to kill myself in the 5-9.  If I have to stay up all hours of the night to write a post or short story so be it.  I’d rather be a zombie during work than in the hours where real life happens: the hours between work.

Join me on my OriginalJourney and share your own OriginalJourney.  If it relates to you or if you simply want to share a journey, this is the place to do it!  We’re all Originals in our own OriginalLife.

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5 responses to “Journey Walk: Day 2

  1. Oxford is magical city, and one I dream of living in. I too have studied abroad, and the growth achieved when not in the midst of your daily responsibilities is something so mind-blowing that it’s hard not to daydream about it. Keep pushing on. I love your writing.

  2. I had an eight month fellowship in Paris when I was 25. It changed my life — and my vision of who I would and could become. So glad you had this wonderful experience. You’ll be back.

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