Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My First Love

Perhaps you've gathered that I love Cambridge. I love its compact size, its public green spaces, the old colleges, the river, the silly town-versus-gown tussles, the pubs, its gardens, its bike-ability.

But it's not my first (English town) love.

That hono(u)r goes to Oxford.

I got my very first passport in 2000 to come to Oxford for work.

I don't really remember that first trip specifically -- it blends together with three more trips to Oxford I'd make in subsequent years -- but I'm fairly certain I wasn't a very good tourist. I was grateful for the pre-arranged walking tour, for group dinners out to eat the fanciest food I had surely eaten in all my 24 years, for assistance crossing the road because, despite my two college degrees, my brain simply couldn't grasp the idea of looking to the right before crossing the road.

 I found it all so quaint and charming, and, well, English.


The academic scene was so different than my university. C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll wrote here. John Wesley was here. The pubs and churches they frequented are still there.

There was an actual town market. Like you read about in books.

John came with me on my third trip in 2002. So, since that was one place in England we were pretty familiar with, we didn't make it a priority to visit. As our days as England residents are numbered, we're down to visiting places because it would be embarrassing not to. So, one Saturday last month, we hopped in the car and made the 80-mile, 2+ hour journey.


For the most part, I found it to be exactly as I remembered it. Cambridge has now captured my heart as my English home, but Oxford will always be my first love.