To the Library and the Sea

It’s a misty Tuesday morning in Bristol, but the sun is starting to peek out from the clouds with promise. How did November slip in so quietly? Surely, it should still be October and I should  be confusing Queen’s Road and Park Street and asking strangers on the street for directions. Have I really been here a month? I think time changes–picks up–when you’re happy and enjoying every hour in the day rather than eyeing the clock and  living in an endless stream of count downs; “Three days till Friday,” “One more week till the lake,” “Six more hours left of work.” My former habit of getting through many days and weeks, particularly when I spent most of the summer in a grey cubicle editing financial documents.

I’ve realized I enjoy the little details about life in Bristol as much as the grander things, like day trips to Wales and Oxford. I can take as much time as I like at the grocery store and get to choose whatever I like. I can go for runs in Clifton Downs without worrying about being late or having to skip my run to rush to work. I haven’t had to (as of yet!) stay up late cramming material for class the next day. I’ve never ever had this much time to myself and it’s an unfamiliar luxury.

For the next few weeks I do need to spend much more time in the Tyndall Avenue library and less time on the train, but I did enjoy a long weekend by the sea in Brighton in the company of Miss Linda Page. Linda and I met almost three years ago when both studying in Lillehammer, Norway and have kept quite close through postcards, Facebook messages and the occasional phone call. She met me on my first day here  to drop off a few kitchen utensils for me to use this year, but she had a train to catch and we had little time to catch up. A proper visit was in order. So, on Friday I left Temple Meads Station and headed south to the picturesque sea town of Brighton, the place Linda calls home when she’s not off traveling the world.

Linda was just as I remembered and it hardly seemed like three years had gone by since Norway. It’s a sweet and even exhilarating feeling to see someone who shared in on such a changing experience. We had loads to talk about, and as Linda and I walked back to the train station yesterday, we agreed that a long weekend still wasn’t enough time to cover everything.

Linda showed me her Brighton, and I was quickly charmed by the little streets peppered with cafes and all kinds of boutiques, but taking a windy Sunday afternoon walk along the chalky cliffs made me fall in love with this corner of the map.

I could hardly believe Linda grew up just across the street from this view–the idea of having the sea as a front yard couldn’t be more different than the flat farmland of Minnesota. As we walked along the cliffs, we passed a few people out walking their dogs as though it was any other day, and I wondered if I ever could get use to this sight. Linda told me the cliffs go on for nearly thirty miles, and countless travelers come to Brighton just to see them. The famous Seven Sisters, a series of cliffs, begin here and the White Cliffs of Dover were a couple hours away by car. Maybe I was so struck by the cliffs because their beauty was untamed and wild. They looked today as they did a hundred years ago.

My coffee cup is empty which means I need to get myself to the library to read some Coleridge before lecture.



Isaiah 40:12-13

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,  or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,  or weighed the mountains on the scales  and the hills in a balance? ”


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November 2011