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Posts Tagged ‘housemates’

katie lizzie rowing

I’ve said it before: there are always a hundred reasons I want to go back to Oxford. The city itself is an old friend: the winding streets, honey-colored stone and lush green parks are all dear and familiar. But I also have a half-dozen friends who live in Oxford, and I’d planned to spend an afternoon with my former housemate, Lizzie. (That’s her above.)

We met up on the colorful Cowley Road, near the little chocolate-box house we once shared with two other girls: a small, spare semi-detached with a blue door, tucked into a quiet close. Lizzie, knowing my penchant for nostalgia, suggested we go and say hello.

cowley house blue door

We stood in the middle of the close, marveling at how big the trees have grown and trying to guess who lives there now (we suspect another group of students). As I went to snap a photo, Lizzie said something and I turned around – to see Jo and Grace, our other housemates, standing behind me with identical grins on their faces.

housemates radcliffe square

I was flabbergasted. Stunned. Delighted. I hadn’t told Jo and Grace I was coming to the UK, knowing I wouldn’t be able to go see them while I was there – but Lizzie, clever girl, had secretly organized a surprise reunion. The three of them had been scheming for weeks. And we had the most wonderful afternoon.

We headed down to Magdalen Bridge, where you can go punting or rent a rowboat. (We opted for the latter, feeling more confident in our rowing skill than our punting prowess.)

rowboats river cherwell oxford

After a couple of failed attempts at synchronized rowing, Lizzie took charge and rowed us out onto the river.

lizzie rowing

The girls had packed a feast – sandwiches, fruit, chips and veggies with hummus, flapjacks and cookies. Lizzie even packed some prosecco and plastic flutes. (Later on, we traded some to a Scottish couple in another boat for some of their banoffee chocolate. Yum.)

Mostly, we just had the loveliest time being together.

grace jo rowboat river oxford

It is six years since we all lived together, crowded into our wee house, cooking slapdash dinners and writing essays and brewing endless cups of tea. We always knew our living arrangement was temporary: I was in the UK for a one-year master’s program, and the other girls were finishing their undergraduate degrees. Grace and I were both engaged to the men who are now our husbands, and Jo met her husband, Tim, during that year. (The last time we were all together was at their wedding, five years ago.)

katie grace river oxford

Since our little household broke up, we have scattered far and wide, gotten married, moved too many times to count. Grace has a little boy and another baby on the way. I have made a cross-country move that proved just as challenging as my moves to Oxford and back. Jo has returned to the Welsh city where she grew up, and Lizzie has remained in Oxford while earning a master’s degree and establishing a career.

We have kept in touch via Facebook, text message and Christmas cards, knowing the broad outlines of one another’s lives while missing the details we knew during our year together. But we still love one another deeply, and that afternoon, we talked and laughed as though we had never been apart.

grace jo rowing

After the rowing (which proved excellent exercise), we wandered through town, pausing in Radcliffe Square for more photos.

housemates radcliffe camera oxford

We wound up with a walk to University Parks, where we sprawled on the grass and talked some more – about work and marriage and grown-up life, about family and travel and our days together in Oxford. “Do you miss anything about the UK?” Grace asked me at one point. That question has a thousand answers, but I gave her the most important one: “Yes. I miss all of you.”

It may be another several years before we are all together again. But this afternoon of sunshine and good talk and laughter will last me for quite a while.

More Oxford photos and stories to come.

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Housemate rundown

Several people have asked about my little house in Cowley, and my roommates – what they’re like, if I’m enjoying them so far. Let me say unequivocally that they are three dear, precious girls. Here’s the scoop on my sweet roomies:

Lizzie is the reason I found the house in the first place, as she goes to my beloved St Aldates Church and posted the house ad on the church’s Facebook page. She currently works full-time at Starbucks (is cutting down to 2 shifts a week when school begins), and coaches hockey one night a week. She’s an exercise science major, adores kids, and is funny, talkative and practical. She can attack an iced-over freezer and get it sorted out in short order, and she remembered to bring me flowers on my birthday.

Jo is half English, half Welsh, but hails from Cardiff and speaks a bit of Welsh. She just got here last weekend, loves to bake, is quiet and sweet and a good listener. (She’s an exercise science and education major.) She has both an apron and a duvet cover depicting the Welsh flag, and she made me a chocolate cake for my birthday. Yummm.

Grace is an occupational therapy major; she has an out-of-town internship this semester in Slough (south of here), so she’s only back at weekends. She’s a doll, though – sweet and friendly, and always wants everybody to be happy. Her parents are missionaries in Japan, and she’s engaged to a guy who works as an outdoor instructor in Wales.

I’m still learning their stories, though I know bits and pieces, and we’re getting along famously so far. I’m so thankful to God for providing me with these sweet, Jesus-loving, welcoming roommates. 🙂

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