Tuesday Migrations

Oxford Street, Evening Sometimes it still seems strange to me that I live here. Take today for instance. Entering a shop on the Cowley Road. I've left my bike around the corner, outside the Hobgoblin. I've been sitting all day in an office feeling overheated, wilting (you never can tell what it's going to be like when you leave the house on an August morning), but now it's a glorious evening and I'm in shorts. There are friends, and parents of friends, which somehow makes things seem more real. There's music. And then a summer storm. A proper summer storm - thunder, lightening, a giddy downpour. I put my cardigan on. I watch the cars slopping down the street. The rain lets up and I go outside and cycle home and change into dry clothes, and now the clouds are breaking apart, crumbling under the weight of a purple sunset. So I take the glasses we've unofficially borrowed back to our local pub. Four pint glasses; not so bad. They're having a pub quiz. I don't stay for a drink. Instead I carry on down the street to another pub, where someone has left books on the geography of home and the poetics of space for me to borrow.

Speaking of home, on my way home, as I turn onto my street, I can hear the pub quiz questions. What is aurora borealis more commonly known as?

The northern lights. Just the other day I was talking to my parents, who live all the way in California. We were planning a pilgrimage to see the northern lights. Only planning in a vague sort of way - apparently they're going to be very good in 2012 - but still. Here they are again.

And then I come home, to this house. I feel I've been dipping in and out of other people's lives tonight. Or maybe they've been dipping in and out of mine. But that is the luxury we have here - to wave hello, to pop in at the pub not even for a pint but simply an exchange of friendly words.

I make dinner, I find an unopened bottle of wine in the kitchen. It turns out to be good for sipping, especially with a chunk of cheese. Later I climb the stairs to the bedroom. The man is away in Edinburgh for a week but it feels no less like our house. As if we've both installed ourselves here, wrapped ourselves up in the Oxford duvet. We know people! We know people's families! And still it feels funny, good-funny, that I am brushing my teeth over a sink in Oxford, opening the window to my bedroom, and discovering it's silent outside - too late for the usual closing-time rabble - early Wednesday morning, nobody coming or going.

I open one of the books to a random page. "But countless other images come to embellish the poetry of the house in the night," I read. And later on, a quote, translated from the French: "I shall see your houses like fire-flies in the hollow of the hills".