Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Life Ahead

Oxford is green and gorgeous and full of flowers. The Botanical Gardens are ablaze with colour. Portmeadow looks bejewelled: bursting with buttercups. All those sandstone buildings caught by the evening light. The air is full of potential (and, admittedly, the odd downpour too). For me, it’s also newly full of freedom. On Friday I finished my exams: twelve hours’ worth of bending over a desk, scribbling and scribbling, completed. Hundreds of years of English literature studied. Degree done. Life waiting ahead.

I also turned 21 at the weekend: filling my time with conversation, coffee, cocktails, food, books, joyous company. The good stuff. The stuff to be grateful for. It left me so immensely thankful for this city and the people within it. I’ve found such riches here. It hasn’t always been an easy space to inhabit (my parents can confirm just how many times I’ve rung them in tears), but it has offered golden experiences.

People keep asking what it all feels like to be standing at this point, on the edge of these beginnings and endings, and I’ve repeated the same adjectives: exciting, thrilling, sweet. But they’re all perfectly apt. It’s exciting to have done so much, worked so hard, and suddenly to relish the completion; the release. It’s thrilling to look towards all the projects I can finally begin (and there are myriads). It’s sweet to spend an afternoon lying out in the sun with a book and no responsibilities, no expectations, no linger of guilt that I should be doing something else. Elating. Brilliant. Wonderful. Fucking fantastic.

I’m still tired too, and expect to be knocked sideways by the odd wave of exhaustion for a while to come. It’s been quite a year. Quite a three years. Ups and downs (and lots of unexpected left turns) aplenty. Just as it should be. Nothing bland about it, that’s for sure.

For the first time in my life I’m facing the prospect of taking all the things I’ve squeezed in around academic life – the writing, the modelling, the blogging, the other work – and giving them my full focus. My book also comes out on June 9th. It’s going to be taking me to some brilliant places this summer (more on all of this soon.) A loose idea I assembled and brought with me to university; a fully-fledged publication as I leave.

Putting together ‘Notes on Being Teenage’ taught me a lot, as did all the articles and interviews I worked on elsewhere. From being Junior Editor on Violet (see issue five for my interview with the smart, sharp Sarah Kernochan where we discussed storytelling and Hollywood sexism) to essays for places like Broadly, Refinery29 and The Coven, I’ve been given the room to think, research and do a hell of a lot of drafting and crafting.

In a few months, I also have a poetry collection launching. ‘Branch and Vein’ will be published by New River Press: an exciting new venture from two great poets, Greta Bellamacina and Robert Montgomery. Limited edition proofs are already available (see here for more info), with the full print run to come in September. There are poems in there about bodies, distances, family stories, landscapes, and an abandoned hotel. This still feels vaguely surreal and mindboggling. It happened relatively swiftly, and I’m astounded that I was asked to be one of the poets they’re launching with. Honoured too. I respect Greta and Robert immensely, and to play some part in their creative vision is a privilege indeed. There’s a gorgeous write-up of the poetry press on AnOther here.

I use the word ‘adventures’ a lot, but that is definitely what my time at university has offered. Adventuring in countless forms. Creative, personal, intellectual. I have a few months left to adventure and live in Oxford, before moving on elsewhere. But for now, I’m just revelling in it being today.

This shoot took place last summer with the lovely Laura Alice Hart. We ran around Oxford with wonderful stylist Holly Rebecca, while Tracey Cahoon did great things to my hair. It captured a very specific point in my life between the crux of second year and third year. Things were changing and shifting all around me. One of the images appeared on Untitled mag too.


Closet Fashionista said...

Love these photos, soooo beautiful!
Aaaand: congratulations on finishing all your exams/school. Must be such an amazing feeling knowing you're done! I can't believe it's been 6 years since I finished school. You'll find that time flies!
Life is definitely an adventure and you are going to have so many! Hopefully I will add some more adventures to my resume too ;)

Alyssa G said...

Such beautiful photos!
xx Alyssa

Carlota Antolin Vallespin said...

You Are a super woman! I admire you so... How many amazing things you managed at your early age, it is unbelievable. How you do your duties and still realize your personal dreams... I am sincerely happy for you. Even feeling a Bit of envy (the healthy kind) for your hardworker capabilities and you hungriness for personal success.

Taste your freedom now. Enjoy every little Bit of nothingness while Summer pass by. Be fully hedonistic, Because you truly deserve it and Because you Know how it is done ;)

I Send you a big hugh! And my brand new mother love :)

Emalina said...

So many good things to celebrate here dear Roz! So many achievements! I hope you can feel really proud of yourself as you venture out happily into the post-university future. The world awaits!
These photos are breath taking, I love the simplicity of style and make up that lets your beauty shine.
Well done and the happiest of birthdays to you. x

Vix said...

Happy Birthday, dear Rosalind!
Phew those three years have whizzed by, I can't quite believe it.
What an exciting time for you, the book, the end of your academic life, taking a step deeper into your twenties. All I can say is to enjoy every moment, don't make rigid plans and just be.
Much love, you beautiful girl. xxx

Rgulf Constant said...

love the post.all the pics are very pretty.

daisychain said...

I cannot believe you are only 21, you have such wisdom beyond your years. I hope you have the happiest birthday and I wish you nothing but the best for your future...its certainly a bright one! xx

Melanie said...

I also wonder what happened to those three years. On the brink now. On the brink then. It's always changing! So exciting. Spin with the whirlwind is all I can say. (O always tells me to bend like the willow.) Congratulations. You have a knack for grasping and living - in the best possible way. I look forward to seeing what's next for you.

NIKY J said...

Amazing blog post and beautiful photos :)



It's hard to believe that it's already been three years. Adventures and change can always be just what we need. Some of my best times with friends and personal growth memories were during my uni days: painful, joyous, and unforgettable! Happy Birthday to you! I really adore the last image. x

Anna.eM said...

Such a beautiful photos... I really really really love it!

Sofie Marie said...

Well done you! Your look weirdly (or wonderfully) Woolf-ian in some of these images! Good luck with all that's to come, it's really nice to watch you succeed, and to read your writing along the way.

I'm at the cusp of finishing up my second year of studies (oddly enough, my final exam (a strange 48 hour style essay exam) runs over the 8th- 10th of June). Who knows, maybe I'll be able to peruse your book in Waterstones when it's all over...


ps I am relating hard to your description of elation and exhaustion at the end of a uni year.

Lola Byatt said...

the coat you have on in your last picture is SO SO beautiful, I love it so xxx

Melissa Lee said...

I remember stumbling right into your blog when you where 14 and finding it beyond visual and beautiful! You are now already out of College!!!! Good luck on your life to come, it will be grand in more ways than one...

Hugs and Kisses from an American living in the High Desert of the Southwest....... Melissa Lee

Jenna Opsahl said...

You are absolutely stunning. I would love to take your picture sometime. Happy birthday! And congratulations on finishing school. I'm in the same place, very excited/very exhausted/slightly scared. It's a good time though, I think. Can't wait to see the poetry collection. :)