Archives for August 2013
Much of this week was spent running through the cobbled streets of Durham (a quaint city-town in the North-East) with Will’s family, attempting to pack in four castles in three days (we did it!) and see numerous sites of medieval importance. We tore through the place at the pace of the Norman conquerors of yesteryear – eating teacakes on Palace Green early in the morning, climbing the three hundred plus steps to the cathedral’s peak and admiring the holy Lindisfarne Gospels late at night.
I spent much of our visit quietly pondering the ‘what might have beens’. Over four years ago, after a flurry of emails and academic exchanges, Durham University offered me a place to study liberal arts at St. Cuthbert’s College (which the students, allegedly, affectionately call ‘Cuth’s’). I ummed and aahed, hesitated and wondered, but I had never been to Durham and Bristol’s Victorian villas and elegant bridge had already stirred my imagination.
I spent a frenzied, gorgeous, exciting and life-changing (there’s my dramatic side again) in Bristol, hundreds of miles from St. Cuthbert’s and never regretted my choice. It was only driving into the city on Wednesday, five years on and a lifetime in between, that the cogs of my mind began to whir and I remembered my fleeting encounter with the place quite suddenly. In four years elsewhere, I had not thought of Durham once.
The city was lovely, entirely different from Bristol – small and quiet, sweetly romantic and sat in the bend of a mighty river (just like Regensburg). All climbing ivy, hidden windows, secret passageways, damp cobbles and the patchworked sandstone of a thousand years. The what-might-have-beens tumbled through in sequence and I could quite imagine the life I’d never known. Autumn walks up the hill towards the green, wrapped up in my duffel coat with a pile of books in my arms. Riverside picnics and late-night library nights overlooking the cathedral. Sandwiches at the market square and a date with a nice boy in a window seat on a rainy winter’s day. Coffee in the teashop on Palace Green and a job in the bookshop on the street sloping northwards. We even ambled by the college where I would have lived. It is a beautiful street, cobbled and old, and I’d have been joyous there.
I would not change my seasons in Bristol for all the world, but sometimes it’s nice to imagine, isn’t it? Somewhere out there my alter-ego is wandering those ancient streets in her duffel coat, holding hands with the boy in the window, a bookbag over her shoulder. Perhaps one day I’ll write my novel about the girl who chose Durham and wouldn’t change her seasons there for all the world.
I really love beginnings. I love beginnings almost as much as I honest-to-goodness hate goodbyes. I suppose I love beginnings because of my deep-rooted dislike of endings, beginnings composing the antithesis of goodbyes. Goodbyes find me choking back tears, weepy and sorrowful (no matter how short-lived: maybe I’m just dramatic). Thus it makes perfect sense that the arch enemy of the ending – the beginning – installs a happiness deep in my bones.
Autumn and beginnings are a pair deeply intertwined in my thoughts, new starts running like seams through the fabric of that golden season. Autumn has always been a time for fresh starts: terms commencing anew and the accompanying crisp white notebooks, fresh uniforms, promise of blank slates, unknown faces and new shoes.
Good things happen all year round, but my thoughts always trick me into believing good things happen mostly
in the autumn. There is little innate truth in such a statement, but of course, I can think of all sorts of great things which happened and happen in the fall to support my persuasive mind. I moved to Bristol one autumn. Two years later, in the autumn, I moved to Regensburg. I fell in love in the autumn. And autumn in my head is everything I adore – all cups of steaming coffee, knitted scarves, curling up with a novel beside a fireplace, walks through the amber leaves and nourishing homemade soups on the table. Perhaps because the season is so fleeting, my memories of it are imbued with a hazy glow, unrivalled by summer, winter, spring.
But my funny old mind’s theory has been proven again this year because, already, especially great things are happening. My sister is pursuing her dreams and I have a new job at a new library.
Most excitingly, my love is getting his very own, grown-up new beginning this autumn. Walking through the grounds of Bamburgh Castle this week, far away from home, he picked up the phone and was offered a (dreamy) job as a translator in a sweet little pocket of London, doing almost exactly what he wants to do for a living. His smile says it all, doesn’t it?
Autumn, you’re doing it again.
So here’s to new beginnings. And smiles that make the heart melt.
I’m thankful for this day. August 9th 2013. Biking along the canal with mama, dad and sister to the park for an afternoon picnic and match of rounders with our sweet family and Canadian relatives, visiting from across the sea. The little boy running across the grass in this photograph is Canadian/English/Hungarian Max – some sort of second cousin once removed, but a true-blue cousin in spirit and thought. We’d never met before, but having heard so much about him, it was the greatest pleasure to get to know his mischievous expressions, love of the colour purple and fascination with bicycle wheels in person. Feeling especially grateful this night for our fun and loving family, and the contentment that is sitting on a blanket eating strawberries in the August sunshine, surrounded by people you very much love.