Tuesday, January 10, 2017

VW Dealership in Oxford, Ten Years On


It's been ten years since I was studying abroad in Oxford, a time span that seems unbelievable and insurmountable to me now. I keep wanting to recap things about my time there, and I haven't yet. I'm not sure why, other than that this has been a busy year, with perhaps less intellectual effort involved than my year at Wadham, but certainly also fewer free hours and the same amount of emotional energy required. Maybe this will be the first of my recaps. About this time a decade ago, I was just starting Trinity Term. I was planning my "grand tour" of sorts, to commence once the term ended. I was switching out of a course on Psychoanalysis and Literature for one on Literature and Political Thought in Early Modern England, and had already written my first paper for British Women's Fiction. I was sitting on the Wadham Student Union. I was certain I'd have my PhD by now.

Of course, tempus fugit and things change. We lived above the VW dealership pictured above, except when we lived there, it was really still a VW dealership, and it wasn't yet owned by Wadham, nor occupied by activists and homeless people. It was cozy, really, and a little prototype of what I've wanted since: an apartment complex where all of my closest friends lived. It was the first time I had a bedroom upstairs from the living area, something I'd always desperately wanted, growing up on one floor like I did. For that reason, it felt so—authentic. It was a two and a half mile walk from campus, or a short bus ride on the Rose Hill line. The other main road that it split off of had a costume store called Bead Games. I read so much that year. Now, Bead Games is closed, and I've only read one book since moving three months ago. Living in that building seems like yesterday and also a lifetime ago.

I can still remember the exact color and texture of our couch there, the double faucets on the sink.

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