I’ve just been over to Somerville after seeing my opticians (I now have non-cloudy eyes*! Yay! I will be able to see on my wedding day!) and the sun is just beginning to come out. The college looks lovely. I was reminded about how I fell in love with Somerville, started to after my interviews there, and did during my first year. Even during my second and third years I would wonder through almost daily admiring her, wondering how I could ever leave her and what I would do with myself when I finished my degree.
In recent years, however, things have changed. I’m no longer in love with her, but I still love her.
I realise that several Somervillians I know felt about Somerville the way I feel the Hughsies think about their college: that’s it’s a bit like a school, which everybody just bashes around in and therefore constitutes the scenic background to their university antics. I never felt this way about Somerville. She is special.
I love not just the community, the Oxford system, the convenience, but the college herself. I love her stonework, her funny corridors, the hidden passages between the college walls and the building walls. I feel spoilt to ever have touched her, ever have stood within her walls.
During my third year, I had so much fun in Somerville, I lived in her once again as I had in my first year and I spent more time in the quad on the grass in the sunshine. I was able to make the space mine, drinking pimms or red wine on the grass, having picnics. And I have also been given something to take away from her – my lovely fiance, Guy.
So I feel now that she has grown out of me, and I am ready to move on, taking with me what I have gained from the experience. And it seems right, that she should become the property of the younger generation, that they should own her and love her if they will. This surprises me. It’s a very calm feeling. A feeling of heritage and generosity where I would have thought myself clingy and greedy. Perhaps it helps to see the older women who return to the college throughout the year, either shuffling along in their zimmerframes or pointing things out to excited, unruly children. Somerville was once theirs. And today, she is mine.