Friday, 14 September 2007

Moving On

My time at my Oxford College is coming to an end. I came up just two weeks after my eighteenth birthday almost exactly ten years ago on if I recall correctly 3 October 1997. Since then I have completed my BA, my MSt and my DPhil all here in the same institution. Within its honey-coloured seventeenth-century buildings I lived, slept, studied, ate, drank, dreamed, fretted, partied, loved, lost and learned. Given the peripatetic instincts of my family, I have never been lucky enough to call one place home for as long as ten years before. So not only is it over a third of my life that I've spent here, but also the longest I've ever spent anywhere. My college is more my home than any other place on earth.

Unsurprisingly I'm quite upset about moving on. There are all sorts of good reasons for it. Institutionalisation is never healthy and it's time to move on. Intellectually I would like to experience a new environment and my teaching would certainly benefit from a new setting and a new system. Also I believe that its changes and challenges and all their difficulty and scaryness which teach us things and which help us to develop. I don't want to stagnate.

But it's not just the college which will be hard to leave but the town itself and my life there. This came home to me very strongly when I went into the doctor's in order to change my registered GP address to that of my home rather than my college and they told me that this wouldn't be possible. I stared at the receptionist in shock, then to my horror found that my lip was wobbling, and before I knew it I was standing there in the waiting room bawling uncontrollably. Attempts to reassert self-control were not notably successful, but luckily tissues are as ubiquitous in GP's reception areas as they are in counsellors' offices. I blew my noise loudly and unhappily a few times while the poor receptionist flapped her arms in a vague yet reassuring fashion behind the desk.

I have moved all my stuff out of the set of rooms which the college gave me, and handed in my keys, and as of 30 September shall be out of work. And what could be more sensible than to go and live in a forrin country when you have no cash? And after all, it's not like I have any ties in the UK like a mortgage or a relationship. Oh, wait...


Anonymous said...

Darling I know how hard it was to leave the city of dreaming spires - I went up to the art Ruskin in 1971 and made Oxford MY home; it became the place where I had lived the longest also. Met my ex-husband there; had my babies there, had the best time there. Even tho' I was more a member of Wadham than anywhere else (and it was a mens college then)I loved going to college in a museum! It was a privilege to spend that part of my life in that beautiful city. I know what a wrench it is for you. love Philly xx

de vertalerin said...

It's horrible. It's been my home from home for ten years and I love it. Both my children leaving Oxford at once: it will never be the same again, and I shall miss it very much indeed.

It's odd, because I never feel any regrets about moving on myself, I'm a nomad by nature.

One last visit, at the end of the month for Claude's graduation (which will be interesting, as I shall be sitting there with my ex...)

However: new challenges, new places, it all helps you to grow. Though I have a feeling you'll eventually gravitate back...

ursus arctos said...

Ten years is a long time.

Especially those ten years.

I remember that when I decided to leave Cambridge (the other one), it was with a rather definite sense that if I hadn't done so when I did, I would have fallen into a tender trap that for all its comforts (intellectual, financial, ego-stroking, etc.) was nonetheless a trap.

It was very painful at the time, but was very much a pre-requisite to everything else I've ever done.

I very much hope that it turns out to be as positive a change for you, and very much trust that it will.

TrentToffee said...

Onwards and upwards girl. Onwards and upwards.

Look back fondly. But don't look back too often. New times, new challenges and all that.