After an eventful week aboard the QM2 and the literal launch of my next book’s journey, I was glad of my choice to begin my time in Europe in my old stomping grounds of Oxford.
The weeks and months leading up to my travels had been focused on finishing my first book, finding the right publishing venue (an ongoing process) and clearing the last vestiges of my homestead out of storage in Marina del Rey, California and into a POD (not knowing where I will land when this journey is over, the only thing I know to do is make my belongings portable, with hopes that answer to the question of where I should put down roots will become clear in a year’s time).
All of this left me no real time to plan these next six months of travels and dancing until I was actually underway. I figured my week in Oxford would give me a chance to “find my feet,” and formulate at least a rough plan for what my European journey would look like.
It has been a good week, a productive one. Happily settled into a studio flat in North Oxford, I have savored the simple comforts of popping over to the Summertown shops or walking into town, stopping in for lunch at the covered market, then weaving through a few quiet, narrow lanes to the banks of the River Cherwell to enjoy the punters and sunshine. Just as I’ve done countless times before. I never tire of it.
Upon completing their exams, students jump in the river to wash off the cake and champagne they’ve been doused with.
It was an added bonus to my week that my writer friend Betty from Hawaii was over in the UK visiting her family. She, along with her daughter-in-law Galya and grandkids David and Katie, came up from Basingstoke for a day of exploring the city. It was a delight to show them a bit of the Oxford I know, as well as join them for a tour of the botanical gardens and a tasty pub lunch.
And I took the morning of June 6 to visit the war memorial at St. Giles, and say a prayer of gratitude and peace for the soldiers who took to the beaches of Normandy seventy-five years ago, including some amazing men I’m proud to call my friends.
The rest of my week has been spent mostly with people I’ve known for decades, whom I’ve written about before. These are folks with whom I share a sort of shorthand — so much is already known and understood between us. There is that easiness in being with them which is vouchsafed only to close friends and loved ones, and it’s always a comfort to come across it, especially when one is moving around the world.
Oh, I needed this week here. I needed to be quiet for a bit. And I needed the terra firma of Oxford before I continued into the uncharted territory and shifting sands of my travels.
But this afternoon, as I strolled along the Woodstock Road to the familiarity of my flat, I felt myself settling in. My senses were telling me I belonged here, that I was home.
The pull to stay is strong, which means it’s time to pack up and go, before I give into temptation. But, as my lovely friend and poet Miranda Warner writes,
“…I can return
And not return
Because I never really left.”
Left: my hat at home in the flat.
Middle: a lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato sandwich, my new favorite — wish it was available all year round and not just for Pride.
Right: my first car — haven’t seen one of these in years, let alone a convertible, let alone in perfect condition, let alone with right-hand drive…