30 June 2008

Departing Thoughts

Tomorrow night is my last night here, but I don't think I'll have much time to write, so I thought I'd take a little while tonight.  As I've said before, when I leave here it will be for a full year, so I decided to use this entry to write about some things I'll miss.  I know it doesn't seem as if I very much like the place I leave, and I think part of the reason why I'm so tense about leaving is that I'm going from somewhere I don't much care for to somewhere where I don't have anything, and that's nerve-wracking.  But there are some things about the town I live in that I like very much.

First of all, I love my university.  I can't express how good it has been to me, and how good a university it is.  I love my students, almost all of whom I've found to be lively, mentally alive, and interested in what I teach.  I like my colleagues, none of whom is unkind, or sulky, or spiteful (which is pretty impressive for an English department).  I like the people.  I find it a little odd that they're all so chatty, but I like the fact that they're friendly, and that no one is rude, they way they were in Boston, where I lived before.  I love being able to walk to my job from my house, and I love my office with its comfy futon.

I love my house.  In fact, when I think of something I'll miss intensely, it's the house.  When I first moved in my landlady and I painted it so it would look just the way I wanted, and because it has wood floors and broad rooms it always seems airy and welcoming to me.  The truth is that it's a bit too big (I say this because I had a look at the apartment on the other side of the house a few days ago, and I found it if possible even nicer than this one, in part because it's smaller), but it's the first place I've lived that I've painted and furnished and decorated exactly to my liking. 

I also love the fabulous bakery down the road, which makes the best icing I've ever tasted.  Not the best cupcakes (which is what the icing tops), but the best icing.  Oooo, I can't even explain why it's so delicious, but it is.  Every week I go in and buy two cupcakes, one for me and one for my graduate student, and every week they are delicious.  I love England, but one thing they just don't do very well if you have an American palate is cake:  it always seems too dry, and the icing is not creamy but rather rolled.  So this icing, which is fluffy and sugary and succulent, will be sorely missed.  

On the other hand, you can't get an almond croissant here for love nor money.  What you lose in the swings you gain in the roundabouts, as my friend Peter used to say.

I will also miss my cat.  Someone has agreed to watch her for the year I'm gone, and I'm about to deliver her to them.  This is in fact the only thing that makes me feel pangs of sorrow (as opposed to fear, or a kind of self-centered depression) about this situation.  I know I love my cat, and I knew I loved her before today, but I'm a little surprised to find how attached I am to her.  I guess I shouldn't be - I knew rationally that she means an enormous amount to me, that we have a relationship (which is probably one-sided, but I've made reciprocal in my imagination), that she has many cute ways that enter into the casual fabric of my life:  so that, for example, I pet her soft paws without even thinking about the happiness that gives me.  But because I never left her for a year, I never could know what my emotional response to that leaving would be, and hence what my response to disattachment to her would be.  I'm going to miss her a very great deal indeed.

I'm sure there are many other things I'll miss, but I can't know what they are until I'm over there and miss them.  One thing I'm quite intrigued to see is the kind of difference the internet will make.  When I last lived in England, communication was only phone and letter.  And in some ways I am a fan of putting past lives behind you, of fully living where you live and making your community where you're...er...communitized.  But even though I am a fan of that, I don't believe it's mentally healthy - and even when it was just phone and mail, I always kept in active touch with my friends in America.  So I'll be very interested to see what kind of blending the internet produces.  Perhaps none (since many people say they'll write, but then don't after a bit), but perhaps enough to make me feel that I'm not losing frienships or understandings, but rather just accumulating more.

Now that is a positive note to go out on.  As is the mention that Spain won the European Cup final.  Apparently Germany played terribly, but in any case I always root for the underdog, so I'm pleased (albeit rather more abstractly than I was with the results of Germany's earlier matches).  Die Jungs made it to the final, so they can't complain, but a country that hadn't won for 44 years won, and it's hard to argue with the heart-warming sensation of that.  Huzzah, Espana!

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