Oxford, Late Winter, Evening

I like to watch the steeples puncturing the sunset as I cycle home, showering the city with blood-orange colours, setting the tops of buildings alight. Such precise buildings: the filigree, the sculpted domes, the golden windows. The roads seem wider at this hour, and unpaved. I go towards home, towards the pub with the rusty bicycle outside, towards the café where magic (they say) happens. Towards the bare-wood-planked edifice of our love.

Earlier I ran mundane errands. I bought ugly things, useful things. I hate to spend my money on ugly, useful things. Razors, shampoo, tampons, condoms. I went to the self-checkout because I did not want to be seen. Please let them not think that this is what I do, what I do, in my red pencil skirt, my leather heeled brogues, my rust-coloured coat, after work, on a Friday evening. Let them not think that this city and this life has become so prosaic for me, because that would be an unfair representation, and even if I buy razors and tampons on a Friday evening while the air and the light is shimmering all around us, I also...

...have this thought: cycling to work, early morning. The sun coming down the wide, empty (unpaved) High. I had forgotten how much I love to see the city in this light. The closed, sour winter-me, so suddenly self-obsessed, so willing to be saddened or hardened, moved by the temperature, the darkened days, had forgotten this very simple thing; but all it took was a touch of light upon my skin to remember it.

(Still, strolling down Turl Street, I see a stationer is closing its doors for good, and in the Covered Market, past the fresh meat and leather and hot cookies, several shops wear signs: Sale. Last few days. Everything must go. I have thought for so long that the economy does not touch me, because I am poor anyway, I am in the throes of youth, but maybe, I think, I will miss the stationer, where I once bought a set of notecards, and the shop in the covered market where I once bought a blue satin clutch to go with my dress for a friend's wedding.)