Since my exams have ended, I’ve been struggling. There has been no revision, no requisite reading, no entrapment upstairs in my room. And I’ve been a little lost.
One of the first things I did when I left the examination room was head to the library. I dumped the tomes that I’d annotated and absorbed (Ted Hughes, Angela Carter, Jeanette Winterson) and headed to floor nine. I was back in the English literature section, searching for books that I wanted to read. Freedom.
That day, I left with about a dozen volumes in a Times Plus canvas bag (thanks to my friend Gareth; it’s been indispensable). Here is what I’ve been reading in the past few weeks of exam freedom. And then, guess what? I headed to Fopp on Byres Road the other day and bought another four. Fopp do a really good two books for a fiver deal. This is what I tell myself when I look in my purse with worry: it’s fine. It’s a bargain. You always need books. Yeah, they’ll fit on the shelf. The shelf that’s already full. It’s all good.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Poor Things by Alasdair Gray
Immortality by Milan Kundera
Is it just me that finds it difficult to be social after months in front of a computer screen? I jolted from a distant dream of quotes and disquiet to find myself sitting calmly in restaurants, ice cream parlours, city parks. Beside me was the boyfriend, the university girls, the old pal from the naval unit. And I was making plans. Summer stretches before us all now. What’s your holiday plans? When exactly are you away? Instead of organising around exams, we’re organising around holidays. It’s all rather ironic.
By the way, the number one way to tell you’re in the arms of freedom? You, and both your university girlfriends, have painted your nails. Which you haven’t done since last summer.
Stop putting boiling water in your peppermint tea. Instead, chuck the teabag in a massive tumbler, and fill it with cold water and ice. Go and sit in the garden. The sun is shining (just for a day or two, remember that we’re in Scotland). You might go for a wander through the village and onto the country lanes. You’ve got headphones perched in your earlobes (Justin Timberlake. Justified was a ‘bargain’ on iTunes). Breathe. Just breathe.
You might be like me, or perhaps not. I’m still finding ‘relaxation’ tricky after two weeks. I’m one of these fidgety people that continually must be doing something. Whether searching for summer placements, reading, thinking about my upcoming dissertation, catching up on journal writing, or indeed painting my nails, I’m still ‘doing’. It’s just less serious than before.
Happy summer. I’m looking forward to filling my calendar with afternoon tea rather than assignments.