I’ve been thinking a lot about Nottingham, randomly remembering the curve of our street between the park and the cemetery, picturing myself suddenly there at random moments throughout the day. I miss it. I miss the Left Lion at the courthouse, my nondescript little room in our flat, the tea places tucked into every spare shopfront, the wide sidewalks around the university, the way the castle was just suddenly there when you turned certain corners.
This could be partly because the neighborhoods around here are full of streets named after various British Things – Robinhood Road, and Guinevere Lane, and Sherwood Forest Elementary School. Then there are the fairytale names, like Fernhaven and Friendship Circle (not joking), which somehow don’t seem too saccharine because of the stately mansions lining both sides of these streets. With every turn onto another Yorkshire or Greenbrier Farm, you think Yes, that makes sense here.
In Notts, I never knew where I was going to spot another beautiful, astoundingly ancient building. Our flat was in a boring block of similar brick buildings, but it only took a short walk to reach the historic part of town. The castle, of course, was the most obvious, stumbling into the old moat where the Robin Hood statue stands, which made me feel like a villager living in the shadow of Castle Rock way back when. But there were also the pretty neighborhoods where our architecture tutors took us walking, the twists and turns (our new town isn’t laid out like a grid either, and I can’t quite make sense of it yet).
Here, in North Carolina, our house is in an early-aughts subdivision sandwiched between two parkways. It’s pretty enough, especially compared to our old apartments, but a few minutes’ drive from us is a castle-like hotel with sweeping grounds, a mews, a stable, and guesthouses that look like mansions in their own right. When we were house-hunting, when we got tired of the depressing reality of homes within our budget, we would get lost in the Robinhood Road neighborhoods, oohing and aahing over the columns and wraparound porches.
So once again, I’m living on the edges of grandeur.
I’m happy that this new place in which I know no one reminds me of another place in which I knew no one that turned out to be one of the most wonderful places I’ve been.
(No matter how long I live in the South, however, I will never be able to pronounce it Notting-HAM.)
So glad that you are happy.
On the day before i reported in for duty as a new 2d Lieutenant at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point NC I stopped for the night in New Bern NC in February 1967. I got up in the morning and ordered eggs and bacon at the restaurant and instead of hash browns I got this bowl of porridge-looking substance from which came my love of grits and an introduction to the South. You won’t be a stranger long – you will be that quirky Yankee with all the books before you know it.
And Grace – no place where you live could ever be described as “nondescript” – you would make even the most plain and barren of apartments “descript”.