Today I spent six hours in the Library cramming shamelessly. It’s that time of year when you have to get there early and stake out a spot or face walking aimlessly through the aisles all morning waiting for someone to leave, like trying to park your car in the centre of London. Students like to camp out in the Library: they leave their shit sprawled across several tables while they go out for lunch to lull themselves into false sense of responsibility. But hey, we’re all in this together: it’s revision time!
At least they call it revision. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t qualify if you never had the vision in the first place. And I swear I learnt stuff this morning. Stuff I’d never known before. So I’m going to stick with “studying”.
This evening, after an unhealthily productive day, I decided I’d go out, breathe the air and celebrate I was alive. So I donned my running shoes and headed south. There are three good reasons why I chose south. First of all, south of Durham is the road to Darlington. Parallel to it runs a pavement from which you can take several footpaths, all spilling into the neighbouring fields. The fields lie on a gentle hill, basking in the spring sunsets and brimming with dandelions. You see the appeal. Secondly, south is home. This might sound stupid, but I come from Spain, and I promise I can feel it in my bones that I am getting closer to Spain when I’m on that road to Darlington. Last of all, running south is usually a good idea when in doubt. You may recall Treebeard saying: “I always like going south; somehow, it feels like going downhill.”
So south: up the steps to St Aidan’s college and, instead of speeding past, a little pause at the bench to take in the magnificent views of Durham Cathedral. After dedicating a quick thought of admiration to the 11th century Norman builders, I continued on my way to Darlington. A good 10 minutes into my run, I turned into the fields. I usually have a deep disregard for fields -due to personal memories forever linked to the boring Breton countryside- but on this occasion I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. It was glorious. So I stopped (again), to take it all in, and then had a little “Les Miz” singalong as my iPod switched from whatever underwhelming song it was playing on the road. Rather than just head back, I decided to explore a bit, as one does. For some reason I ended up a long way east of the main road, so I chose the paths that seemed to lead back up to Durham. Fate, however, had me end up nettled in a narrow muddy track which finally died at a patch of suspiciously clean gravel.
A few inquisitive steps later, I arrived at a stunning stretch of grass and gravestones. Hundreds of tombs lay beyond a sign reading “Woodland Cemetery”. I was instantly reminded of graveyards in Spain, made of hot concrete and dust. This was so much nicer! I actually felt like walking through it. So I did, listening only to my own footsteps and, at one point, to a deeply embarrassed pheasant who was picking his way idly across the lawn, clearly not expecting company. I spent a while reading the gravestones and picturing their owners; most have amazing stories. And, after pondering briefly about the wrongness of young death, I sped back to college for a shower, encouraged by my iPod’s new random choice of uplifting songs.
I’ve now had my shower. And written this. So I think I’ll cram some more. ‘Cause that’s how I roll.