To recap: Mrs. D, relation of hotshot law firm D and another D, runs me over in her silver Cadillac. Settlement becomes $5,000 as a result of high interest rates compounded over about 8 years. When the money becomes available to me, do I invest it in higher education? Buy government bonds? Play the slots? Spend it on clothes and shoes? NO!
I go to England. Why England? Blame C.S. Lewis and his Narnia stories, the other people who wrote stories about adorable children who, left to their own devices, get into all sorts of scrapes and adventures. They crawl between buildings through attics and seek places without adults. They are the sort of children who carry flashlights and find need of them.
But my experience of England ended there: sometime in the 40s. And, you know, in fiction. My mother was not against me going but we thought something a little more structured than a plane ticket pinned to a hope and a prayer was in order. Thus, Enrichment at Oxford. It was like school so it would be good for me. But in England so it would be enchanted.
On the plane were other young people bound for Enrichment at Oxford. They were neither adorable nor English. Rather than the canny use of flashlights, their sense of adventure was instead limited to the excitement of a reduced legal drinking age. How pedestrian. Once the plane revved up for take-off, I was in my own bubble of joy. The engine grew louder, the rumbling and shaking became more pronounced as the airport scenery turned blurry and then stillness and quiet: we were off.
More exhilarating than scary. The thrill of being airborne. The anticipation alongside the knowledge that there was no turning back. This was happening.