I'm sitting in Heathrow Airport. Christmas music is playing, and there's a Santa Claus walking around. The airport's busy, but not too bad. What I suspect to be the standard holiday buzz. People are milling around in the Duty-Free shops, and I'm wondering how much chocolate I can get for 3 pound 50. Some little girls are climbing along the chairs next to me; they are eyeing that Santa Claus.
Today's my last day. My last few hours. Right now I'm sitting in the lounge, trying to scam some wireless (not working). After a serious of slight traveling hiccups (one of which included an infuriated cabby, and another a vexed bus driver; but I will not digress here), I made it to the terminal largely without incident, and with a triumphantly underweight bag (although I can feel it in my triceps where I was hefting my duffel bag full of shoes and books). It's pretty in here for Christmas. Someone on the administrative staff has an eye for the glam. And icicle Christmas lights. I'm a little tired because last night was a final hurrah of pub-crawling through the Ox. It was not sad, but rather very joyful, and compounded by a sudden snowfall (snow doesn't happen much in England, at least not on a scale like we see in the States). So there was that extra element of wonderment that such beautiful stuff can come pouring out of the sky so suddenly.
I don't know if I'm ready to leave yet. On my bus out, I found myself crying with great abandon. The town looked so beautiful as the coach swerved through it; everyone was going about their day in a way I had and never would again.
But by the time I reached the airport, I found that I was oddly calm. I'm never really calm (see post about Uffington White Horse), and especially not in travelling situations. But as I walked through the airport, checked in, and am now sitting here, I find that maybe I am ready to go. Because I don't think, somehow, this will be my last trip to England. I just have this nagging feeling that this isn't goodbye.
I guess I lied when I said I'm never calm. I felt this way a few days ago. On Thursday, right after I finished up my secondary tutorial for good. It was a really good tutorial; my tutor and I geeked out about Hamlet for a good hour, and to top it off, I was actually pleased with my paper. So I was on this kind of buzz walking back to my room. It had snowed the night before, and everything was pretty and white as I walked through the meadows. Gosh, it was so beautiful; I wish I could convey to you how still everything was, like it was holding its breath. Nothing was quavering, nothing was anxious. Even now I can vividly recall the crunch of the frozen gravel under my gait. It was so quiet. Except for the usual wildlife. The cows were still grazing lazily, despite the frigid air. I don't think anything spurs them on. Seriously. The little babies were napping in the frost. No hurry for these bovines.
But as I walked there, despite the cold and my unfinished assignments, I couldn't believe how hopeful I felt. A semester of wonderful friends, adventures, and road bumps in a unique and vibrant community like Oxford doesn't just end, at least not for me. I'll be back, I think.
We'll see, won't we? Although I never did find that peanut butter I was looking for.
It's time to get on that plane and get home. There's a rumor that my family has constructed a welcome-home banner in my honor. Name and everything. Hanging on my house. Did you guys get a banner? I don't think so.
In the words of Hunky's friend Will, that's what I call a 'hero's welcome.'
Kidding, kidding. I am not a hero. I do feel on top of the world, though. Like I can do anything. Which is a pretty good feeling for someone who still has to finish up a semester of college and then, oh, I don't know…..graduate.
YES I SAID IT OKAY. I said the 'G' word. I'm graduating. And I'm ready! Of course, check back in, like, three months to see if this optimism has held up, but you never know. I could remain this good-natured.
So I will miss Oxford. I will miss the long hours in the Bodleian, the bicycles, the Pimms, the pubs, the porters, Hall lunch, Warnock dinner, looking over the Thames, the cows, tea time, the long walk home from St. Catharine's at 3am, Hassan's, Tesco's, watching Lost with Aidan (actually, doing everything with Aidan), attending glittering parties with Gerard, teasing T-Fresh Roberts, free museums, old things EVERYWHERE, my tutors, my tutorials, toting a surplus of library books at all times, and I could go on but you're probably going cross-eyed.
In short, I'm going to miss Oxford, and I hope Oxford will miss me, enough to have me back in the future.
For now, the plan is to sit on my couch in my Christmas pajamas and watch Christmas movies and eat Christmas cookies and generally get the good cheer on. (And did I mention a certain young gentleman who might play frisbee and who is definitely good-looking lives like twenty minutes away? Mistletoe, anyone?)
So, I think this is it for a while, but thanks for reading. Who knows, maybe I will be back! There might be more madness to follow.
Yours, eternally and with devotion,
The Roaming Librarian!