Walking into Cambridge felt like walking through pearly gates. A cool breeze was in my hair, the scent of fresh and fertile earth brightened my senses, and the way the town is just so settled and solid in its place had me absolutely enraptured. I felt like I had come home. Well, almost. My dog isn’t here. But if he was? Home.
My time thus far in Cambridge has been relaxing and calm. The hectic life of a hot and busy city like Paris is gone. Its been replaced with the quiet English countryside. I’ve spent my days here in the Cambridge University library, researching and reading, writing and absorbing. I’ve continued to be surrounded by intelligent conversation and good company. And the food? Its not that bad.
We took an excursion last week to Bath and Stonehenge, which I absolutely loved. Bath was very beautiful. I didn’t like that much of it looked the same, but they had a lovely fashion museum and Jane Austen museum, which was right up my alley. Bath also just had a sense of being safe, which was nice to encounter. I didn’t have to clutch my purse all of the time and develop a cramp in my hand from the action. I could stop and take a picture in the street without being jostled.When we got to Stonehenge I was prepared to be unimpressed. A lot of friends of mine had been and they all told me it was much smaller than you would expect and not all that great. So when I got there, I wasn’t expecting much, and this worked in my favor. I loved it! It was much bigger than I thought! I was in a really rural area with crazy wind and rolling hills with cows and sheep just to my right. The history there was palpable. There was an energy that I could feed off of at Stonehenge, and the sandwich I had on the way out was something I was happy to feed off of too.
The way home from Stonehenge however, had a hiccup. The fifteen of us were in a small van with a lovely driver with an even lovelier accent and head of hair. As we got on the motorway headed back to Cambridge, a van and two cars had a major collision. The accident shut down the highway for three hours. We were at a complete standstill with a perfect view of helicopters airlifting the victims away from the scene. Police car upon police car arrived and had to put up a screen to steer away curious eyes.
And I really had to pee. I held it for a while. I danced on the highway and tried keep my mind off of the weight pressing on my bladder. “Just go in the woods!” my friends said. But my idea of camping is a Holiday Inn, there was no way I was taking a leak in the woods. But after two hours of holding it, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went back on the bus and grabbed a napkin out of my purse and headed off to the side of the highway. I ran into a policeman and told him what was going on. “Well, I’m not gonna make you hold it, given the circumstances, so go ahead.” With permission from the English police I climbed uphill into the woods, through thorns and slippery leaves to relieve myself. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it was still pretty bad. At least I can cross “pee in English woods” off of my bucket list.
The next day I visited Brighton with my friends Shereen and Michael on our off day. Brighton was a lovely coastal city. It was vibrant and colorful. I stepped on a beach with not sand, but rocks, and walked from one end of the pier to the other. It was nice. On the way to Cambridge we had a stopover in London. So instead of getting off of one train and onto another we decided to “pop around,” as the British say, London for a bit. We were at the London Victoria station which was very close to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. So we walked to go see the sights.
When I saw Big Ben I was like a kid on Christmas. I danced and squealed I was so excited. I didn’t expect to get so excited, but it was beautiful. More beautiful I would say than the Eiffel Tower. I felt a connection with this clock. I would keep looking back at it and smiling. This was a nice moment for me. I had been in a slump for a bit, feeling homesick and having nightmares about being forgotten. But Big Ben fixed it.
I had dinner with my childhood babysitter, Tara, Sunday evening. Her husband is in the United States Air-Force and is stationed in Cambridge. Meeting with her felt a little bit like home. I had a wonderful meal of ham, scalloped potatoes, salad, and cheesecake.The company was good. The food was good. I’m doing good.
I spend next weekend in London at the University of London. I get to see a play the Globe Theater and explore the city some more. I’m ready for it. And after that? Soon I’ll be home. Not quite sure how I feel about that. Good and bad. More on that later.