Writer & Podcaster Yang-May Ooi starts an old-fashioned blog about her new home city. Part journal, part local travelogue, the blog follows her exploration of Oxford, its people and places and what it is like to make a new home and a new life.
How do you make a new home in a new city?
When I moved to Oxford not long ago, I spent the first month surrounded by boxes and clutter. Where do I store my shoes? Where do my jackets go? What do I do with the glasses and crockery that don’t quite fit into the kitchen cupboards?
I had only one sofa and no dining table. There were no surfaces to put down drinks or books or papers. I made do with garden furniture and a patio table and chair set. The space was echoey and bare.
In the mornings, when I came down for breakfast I didn’t know where I had put the muesli. It felt clumsy filling the kettle under unfamiliar taps. I felt I had moved into a badly provisioned Airbnb.
When would this holiday end so I could go back home?
Oh wait. This is home.
At home in London
In London, in my house of almost 20 years, it was not like this. I used to move around my home without thinking and everything was where it should be. When I went out for a walk in my leafy Dulwich neighbourhood, I would invariably meet someone I knew – we would smile and nod or stop for a chat.
Before Dulwich, I had lived in Pimlico for another 20 years – a total of almost 40 years in London. I had been a Londoner so long that sometimes walking around the vast metropolis of over 8 million people or travelling on the tube, I would bump into friends.
Here in Oxford for only a few weeks, I was a stranger in my own house. And when I went out for a walk or popped to the shops, I knew no-one.
How do I start to make my new home here in this new city?
Finding the Familiar
My friend Anna Sayburn Lane, the thriller author, said to me that once I had shelving and have my books and familiar objects out of their boxes around me, it would feel more homey.
Home is what is familiar. Home is comfort. Home is where the things are that you know and love.
Anna was right. The moment my shelves were put up, I installed my books and DVDs and photos on them. I’ve also finished sorting my kitchenware and utensils and I can now automatically reach for the breakfast stuff.
This new house suddenly feels more familiar. More like mine.
More like home.
Making Oxford home?
But I still feel the pull of my Dulwich house and my life in London. I miss my friends. I miss popping over to see my brother and sister who lived within 10 or 20 minutes away. I miss that sense of being known as I wander around my local area. I miss the familiarity of being able to navigate my way round the vast, messy streets of London without a map.
My new house may be starting to feel like my home in Oxford. But how can I now start making Oxford into my home?
Oxford Moments is a multimedia blog by author Yang-May Ooi, exploring the city of Oxford, its people and places. “Oxford inspired me as a student and infused much of my life over the last few decades. I have now moved back here and this project is my multi-faceted rediscovery of a city that I have always loved.” Follow Oxford Moments at bit.ly/OxfordMoments
Author: Yang-May Ooi
Yang-May Ooi is a writer & podcaster. Her creative work includes The Flame Tree and Mindgame (novels), Bound Feet Blues (theatre), Creative Conversations (podcast) and Oxford Moments (multimedia blog). ¦ www.TigerSpirit.co.uk