Not gonna lie – when I found out that I wouldn’t be able to make it home for my birthday (June 12), I was pretty bummed. Not necessarily for myself (I don’t care that much) but because I was really looking forward to seeing family and friends.
But the week has been blessed with a long celebration of life and happiness.
It started last weekend with a visit by one of my dearest friends, T., who spent 48 whirlwind hours in the UK. We stuffed our faces with delicious food, visited Cambridge (under a pouring rain) and Oxford (warming up to the sun), went to a super cool exhibition, to Brick Lane’s vintage market, spent a lot of time chatting about silly things, had dinner with some friends of mine.
It went on to really productive days where I managed to complete a couple parts of my project that had been dragging forever – and lunches with fellow PhD-ers (a big plus for someone who usually skips meals or scarfs down a sandwich on weekdays).
On Wednesday, I managed to match two ancient books – one in Greece, one in Italy – to the same binder.
And in the evening, I had an early celebration dinner with some newly found and recent friends who are among the most interesting people I met since moving here. We shared news, gossip, laughs and red wine until almost 3 am. They sang Happy birthday to me, and I felt I was blushing, I felt loved and happy.
(And on the way there, a breathtaking sunset had kept me company.)
On Thursday, I dragged myself out of bed and had a really good meeting with my supervisor. He told me one of the greatest book historians of all times had accepted to meet me – that’s going to be some time in July. I’d brought paste di mandorle and torrone to the office and we spent time nibbling on the sweets, telling each other stories about books and foods. A., a young French woman who is my colleague there, told me my colourful, frilly dress looked like Remondini paper (see here for comparison).
(Yes, book historians are great.)
I then went to work in a library for a while. I’ve been going there often since October and the guy who works at the reception desk has grown quite fond of me. Told him it was my birthday, and before I left that evening he gave me a pen he got recently on a trip to Egypt as a birthday gift – so sweet.
On Friday, a British Library employee who is always very serious and I thought found me annoying greeted me with a Buonasera! and a huge grin when I was returning my books.
I then went to see another amazing exhibition – and hey, guess what? BM staff and volunteers get complimentary tickets to other museums’ exhibitions too! Swoon.
(And Trafalgar Square was drowning in golden light and live music and I felt more in love than ever with London).
Then, today I had the most productive day ever working on a conference paper with a friend, I., that I like more and more each time. It is truly great to find kin spirits who get this excited about 17th century bilingual manuscripts and their trips across the Mediterranean Sea.
Finally, I just came back from a run. Not only did my legs cooperate, but something unexpected happened: I was approached by a boy probably in his late teens, who started running with me and after a bit said “I’m not gonna stop running until you give me your number!”. Thank you, mystery young man, for proving to me that a jogging girl can be hit on in non-creepy way; the combination of your age and your cheerful smile were good on my soul (and my ego).
All in all, this has been a long, joyful week. Tim will be back home in a few hours. Everything is in place.
It has been all about celebrating the hours, not the years.