When biographers try to trace my life (I mean, it could happen), many of them will point to Oxford as the trip that started it all. I got all my firsts out of the way at once: first time out of the country, first time on a plane, first time travelling alone.
I spent several weeks at Exeter College in a spartan room with high ceilings, a terrible view, and a mysterious wine stain on the carpet. I wrote like a lunatic, in three weeks drank more beer and hard cider than I normally do in three months, and met a ton of incredible people that I’m still in touch with six months later.
Part of me has romantic fantasies about living in Oxford one day after I’ve become a successful novelist. There is something very appealing about a town with bookshops every few streets, 60-odd pubs, and three productions of Shakespeare going on at once (at least while I was there). I understand why some people go to Oxford as undergrads and end up staying there for their entire lives, becoming dons. It’s very appealing. Evelyn Waugh compared it to Arcadia in Brideshead Revisited. All the parks and gardens help lend to that comparison. I do wonder though, if I were there as a “town”, instead of being part of the university, a “gown”, would it would be as appealing? The hoards of students and tourists would likely get quite tiresome.
Still, its appeal is undeniable, especially for the literary minded. I had so many beautiful, almost surreal moments while I was there. I would love to go back and visit again someday. I would like to see more of England and the UK in general. I only had a brief time in London, just passing through. The only other town I really got to explore was Bath. Nice, but very hilly. Most of the businesses try to cash in on either Jane Austen or the Romans which makes for an interesting combination.
There is so much more I want to see and explore, so many historic and literary sites my inner nerd demands I visit. Shakespeare’s home in Stratford, Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey, Edinburgh, Cardiff. I’m longing to go to Ireland as well. I need to find a way to subtlely foist myself upon my Irish relatives whom I’ve never met.
Anyway, I recently sold a story about Oxford to a magazine, but haven’t been given a publication date yet. When I get one, I’ll link it here.
We are now up to date for cataloging my international trips. Though, I may post a few more gratuitous arty photos when the mood takes me.