Two things stick out to me in the past week.
On Friday night, College had a bop (a drunken dress up party in the college bar) in which I worked behind the bar and served my increasingly drunk friends and classmates so much alcohol that someone decided to smash a fire alarm later on that night, meaning that I finished my shift by trying to keep 300 inebriated and tired students in the chapel while the fire brigade came to make sure it was a false alarm.
On Sunday I hopped on a two-hour coach to IKEA, where I met up with a friend from school and spent the day browsing sofas and eating Swedish food before chilling out in a weird and zombie-like Milton Keynes pub (do not go to Milton Keynes). We were the outsiders. They were the locals. It was made very clear. In fact, we were asked to leave…
The first, resolutely Oxford: hectic, absurdist, furiously intense, dramatic, claustrophobic and insanely fun.
The second, pure escapism: in a town not linked to anything I know, in a small Swedish oasis (if that’s the right word for IKEA – it is if you ask me), with a friend of almost ten years and more time than we knew what to do with.
I’m starting to realise that I need both. I need the rush of Oxford life, I need that feeling of walking through 800-year-old buildings and being able to greet every face I see, of having plans every evening, of missing deadlines and drinking wine and living in the most beautiful town I know with the craziest people I’ve ever met.
But I also need that balance of nothingness, relaxation, no responsibility, the familiarity of friends so old you don’t need to be anything but yourself around them.
With just the one or the other I would shatter or rot. But with both, right now, it’s pretty good.