Thanks to the bike I venture a bit farther afield each day, so that I am beginning to feel I own this place, with its narrow twisty streets and forests of chimney pots. I seem to find a fascinating little shop round every new corner. I gaze at knitting wools, and jumpers, and cookware, but I spend my pocket money in the secondhand bookshops. I love the dry, musty smell of the volumes, the tissue-thin feel of the paper. Even the typefaces speak of vanished elegance. Already the books are accumulating in my room, and nothing, I think, makes a place more like home. In the evenings I curl up in my window seat and look out over the rooftops as the light fades. Sometimes I read, sometimes I just hold a book, and I feel the strongest sense of contented elation.
—Deborah Crombie, Dreaming of the Bones
Although the narrator of this passage is speaking about Cambridge, England, this passage captures perfectly how I feel about Oxford (pictured above). As I adjust to working in Harvard Square (in Cambridge, Massachusetts), the first few lines also express my fascination with my new neighborhood.
I don’t have a bike, as I did in Oxford. Instead I ride the subway to Harvard Square and walk the short distance to my new workplace. On my lunch breaks, as I did downtown, I am exploring these narrow twisty streets on foot, gazing at shop windows or curling up in cafes for cups of tea and squares of dark chocolate. (Dado Tea, a block from my office, is already a favorite.)
I am listening, observing, absorbing the beat and rhythm of life on the Square. And I, too, feel a strong sense of contented elation.