Based in Oxford, England, Allison often is a blog by Allison Brown. Her posts explore creative writing, photography and travel.

Farewell

Farewell

High Street, Oxford

So I totally did that thing where you have a blog and don't actually blog. I've been busy, what can I say. Yet here I am writing late at night, with only 24 hours left in England. 

I am having a bit of a tough time saying goodbye and I haven't even left yet. I cry at everything. Tomorrow I will have to make a few more last stops at places and deal with my suitcase that is too full and too heavy. I don't want to do any of those things. 

I heard some country music today and didn't know what to do with myself. It felt so foreign and America still feels so very far. I'm not sure how to prepare myself for the inevitable reverse culture shock that awaits me so I still try to pretend it isn't happening. All I know is that it is only fitting that it's raining a lot these days in Oxford. The sky is crying right along with us. Please don't make me go. And honestly, I am just waiting for my Parent Trap moment when Dennis Quaid rolls up with his umbrella and one of the fake identical Lohan twins and stays forever with his true love. 

Even if Dennis doesn't show in the rain, I already await my return to the City of Dreaming Spires. Someday soon, I'll be back for you Ox. 

Moving on. 

Last week, I had to turn in an assignment for my English class in the "stream of consciousness" style of writing, and I decided rather than stay up too late writing when I ought to be sleeping, I'd quickly share what I wrote for the one and only Kieron Winn. Grammar people, AP Stylebook followers, and the entire institution of journalism itself, please know that the following contains sentences that are way longer than 35 words. Look what the British poets have done to me. 

I don't know if it will make you think I am crazy or what, but I think it sums up pretty well the circles my thoughts run in as departure day approaches nearer. It seems quite absurd as I read it again. But here you go. 

A Few Thoughts on Leaving

I'm not a big fan of calendars these days. Tick, tick, tick, the squares are crossed off, each stroke of the pen reminds me time is almost up here and soon I will go home to a sun that is too hot and people that talk too loud. I can't stop the clock. Oxford seems to be taunting me, as her days grow longer, the blue sky chimes in this little game, saying "Come outside and join the fun and flowers," but meanwhile I fall down, down the rabbit hole with my books and papers and still-packed suitcase of clothes that smell like France, stained with memories that I can hardly bear to leave behind. Just as my roots are finding their place and my heart begins to blossom in spring, I am uprooted, ripped away like a band-aid that won't stick to any place quite as well ever again, yet I am expected to be happy about leaving this blessed piece of British earth.

I feel like a little kid who hears the distant bell ring at the end of the best day of recess, breathless from laughter, drunk on the small joys of life, but terribly saddened at the reality that it is time to go inside. It is time to return to the task of growing up into an adult who has a job that isn't as fun as the playground days, which meant a new country every weekend only one cheap flight away. Yet duty and "the American Dream" call us back to the homeland. Send in the fireworks; take me out to the ballgame, God Save the Queen, the countdown to re-entry continues.

Spring's sun keeps on shining through the stained glass stories, preserved forever in the halls of memory, all while the light sets on my British empire, the twilight zone, the end of an era, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, hasn't that been said before? These final days are packed like sardines, salty with uncried tears, too full of final moments, of last visits to favorite places, last moments with favorite people, and hour after hour, every step down the street I feel like I am writing an obituary of a time that, from this day forward, I will mourn and revel in. Will the memories and stories and photographs only stand like tombstones of those greats who have forever shaped me?

Lewis and Tolkien and the musty smell of drink and camaraderie trapped beneath low pub ceilings linger in the air like specks of dust from the pages of history, cracked open by life's readers, stirring affection for places and moments never lasting long enough. This dust carried by time transports me through story and adventure and my thoughts constantly swirl with more tales to tell.

Every eye I catch captures me, who are you and what is your story, I ask to each passer-by that crosses my path down St. Giles. Though in my head I really know that all I am looking for is the right one to stop and say in his perfectly British accent, "What is your favourite kind of coffee, will you marry me?"  I haven't found him yet but every pair of glasses and brown leather shoes is quickly reviewed by the time we pass each other silently on the street, while I always wonder about his favorite pub, if he likes Harry potter and what my mother would think of him.

"He must be good if he goes to Oxford," she will someday reply when I tell her about him and, quicker than you can say Queen Elizabeth, I will cancel my plane ticket only to stay forever in this city as pretty as the post cards I will send friends and relatives for my save-the-dates.

I keep dreaming like the spires of days much too quick to expire, wondering if it was all real or simply printed on the press of my imagination. Ticket stubs and worn-out museum maps and words scattered throughout numerous journals, of which I always have too many, patch together a hodge podge company of adventures across England's green and Scotland's fog, clogged through Amsterdam’s rain and snow and drowned in gelato that melts in the faint warmth of Italy's spring sun. The memories push their way through Portobello road and they float down the Rhine and Seine and Thames and can't the rest of the Americans learn how to pronounce the rivers' names already. Time twinkles in the Eiffel's light, rests comfortably in the pub's dim corner booth, echoes in the Even's song before fading like a tabloid newspaper in the sun. The music swells, and "Time To Say Goodbye" haunts the corridors of my mind because I cannot turn off the loud speakers and I really wish Andrea Bocelli would just shut up. But until the plane comes to whisk me away, I can only try to drown out the sound of leaving a little while longer.

See you too soon America. 

Blank Pages

Blank Pages

An American in Paris

An American in Paris