Here’s the second of a monthly series of columns I’ll be writing from abroad, as originally published in my hometown paper, the Barrington Courier-Review.
I started having trouble sleeping a few weeks ago. I don’t know if it’s late-onset jetlag or something in the water here, but my dreams have been super-vivid, my back and legs ache in the mornings and most times, I wake up expecting to be able to fly or thinking that I own a horse named Padre. (For all you dream interpreters and psychoanalysts out there, make of that what you can and let me know what you conclude.) I’ve since proceeded to rearrange all the furniture in my room according to the basic principles of feng shui and, perhaps most importantly, I’ve replaced my university-provided plastic mattress with a foam one I found on Oxford’s local version of Craigslist. Although my sleeping has gotten better and my dreams less dramatic, the muscle soreness persists. In a recent moment of brilliance, I realized that the aches probably have less to do with feng shui and more to do with the fact that, for the first time in six years, I’ve started riding a bicycle again.
Living in Oxford generally requires that you own a bike and that you use it often, because several centuries of history and development have resulted in a bit more urban sprawl than on a lot of American college campuses. Despite constant protest from my legs and thighs, I’ve committed to the way of life here and insist on cycling around town on a colorful, Schwinn-like secondhand road bike that screams “American trying to fit into the local scene.” Continue reading