Autumn: Norwich

It’s officially two months in. You’re adjusting, adapting: sorting out teething issues about accommodation, the loss of both passport & visa, clashing module schedules; easing into being a student, thinking academically,  stubbornly holding on to freelance work. You find the swimming pool and want to learn its embrace. The weather waxes and wanes. Your mood dips and rises. They are not always directly correlated but sunshine is light. The trees throw out surprises every day, flaunting coats from a wardrobe of autumnal refractions. They remind you of living: helplessly bent and shed in wind and rain, yet and still trunks of vigour, sprouting being in new leaves and berries in dawn.

You move into a place you can call your own for a year. It’s lovely to have a kitchen again; a cat meows at you for food in the mornings. You create space by folding up the bed and removing the chair, feel thankful for the essential oils shoved into your luggage on impulse. Your phone clogs up with pictures of trees, leaves, plants, flowers, berries, amidst occasional selfies for family. The sky paint background palettes beyond human comprehension: a burst of glorious sunshine, often a more dreary, tenacious wet greyness. There are more stars here at night when you remember to look up. On two occasions they are overshadowed: Guy Fawkes Day, supermoon night.

Some things remain the same. Swimming. Books. Habits. The need for light and quiet nights. The refrain of waves as you ride internal struggles. The mundane comforts of chores return. Time passes in familiar calls: fringe cuts. nail cuts, titles to be read, bottles of wine and gin. You no longer check locations and schedules. There are colder hands and feet but warmer memories. The mind is very slowly giving in to cajoles and determination: theories start to connect, panic rises sharp but recedes, cognitive abilities crawling back from years of deterioration. Too slow, too slow.

The temperature drops 10 degrees after a weekend in London, and again towards the sub-zeros. Winter is here early. It’s suddenly crunch time. There’s less than three weeks to formulate arguments, do critical research, translate — (feverishly attempt to) write two different half-dissertations. Yet, and still, it only hits you one evening in the postgraduate bar, reading academic papers with company and a glass of wine, that — you’re here. You haven’t quite realised it.

Always 10 steps behind.

(more frequency here)

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