American Shares British romantic tale of meeting your husband in Oxford

American Shares British romantic tale of meeting your husband in Oxford

The author and her husband while students at Oxford.
Courtesy of Jennifer Barton

  • I met my future husband, Will, while studying at Oxford.
  • Our bond deepened when Will supported me during my mother’s suicide.
  • I eventually moved to London, married Will and now we have four children.

I’m a native New Yorker who attended Oxford for my undergraduate studies in the early 2000s. It was the era of the Prince William craze when Americans started flocking to St. Louis. Andrews wholesale.

I didn’t seriously expect to meet, date, kiss or marry Prince William, although I’m sure my mother hoped I could. While I didn’t care for the titles, I’ve had a lot of thoughts about what it might be like to date a Brit – or several.

But I soon decided that the English were probably not for me; they seemed too mean, too drunk and not to express much emotion. Plus, the mythical “accent” became a source of confusion rather than sex as I realized there are over 30 accents depending on where one comes from.

But then I met my will.

First we became close friends

We didn’t have any classes together since we studied different subjects, but we attended the same college and lived in the same dorms freshman year. We met during my first month in England through mutual friends, and I remember our meeting in the hallway well, even though it was more than two decades ago. He wore a pale blue hood that matched his eyes. He was effusive about his obsession with “Seinfeld” and New York.

I heard a strange noise – but it wasn’t butterflies. It was certain: I somehow knew this person would matter in my life.

Will and I never dated during our college years. I had started Oxford late – after a few semesters at a liberal arts college in the US – so I was a couple of years older than him when we met. This seems trivial now, but at the time, I felt too mature and wise to date someone younger.

Instead, we became the closest of friends, bonding over our love of food, pop culture, and our similar sense of humor. However, we couldn’t be more different on paper: He’s from London and a big, close-knit family of five brothers and a sister. I grew up an only child with a single mother and no other relatives in Manhattan. But talking to him always felt easy. Best of all, I never had to control my personality around him. He enjoyed the weirder, wilder versions of me.

In the rom-com montage of my college years in England, Will is everywhere: hiking to the pyramids in Egypt with me and another friend; wearing a Santa hat, handing out presents one Christmas; standing next to me in fancy dress bops (college dances); college dinners and balls.

Will was there for me when I needed him most

I lived in Paris during a year abroad with my mother. She had experienced a mental health crisis and died by suicide after a few months there. I had no parents or other family I could contact.

If it hadn’t been for friends like Will, who turned up the day after my mother’s death and quietly, efficiently and patiently pulled my life together and helped me move back to London, I’m not sure how I would have got through that period in my life.

I was in a terrible head space for a long time after my mom died, convinced I was damaged, going through the motions of daily living while trying to numb any real emotion. I was back in Manhattan, but going back to the city I grew up in without the person I loved the most didn’t feel like healing. It was more like haunted.

Soon after that I found myself back in London

Will and I hadn’t dated in any traditional sense when I started throwing around the possibility of quitting my job and moving to London. It sounds dramatic to shift your life around at will, but I stopped believing in stability after my mother died. I was 25 years old and had nothing to lose. Will and I moved in together straight away for financial reasons – and because I couldn’t legally work in the UK at first – so we had a “hard start” to our relationship.

London provided an ideal backdrop to create new memories rather than chasing ghosts from my past.

It’s been 16 years and I’m still living in London with my now husband, Will, and I have no regrets. Now we have four children together.

England is where I grew up: here I became a parent, a wife and a writer. It’s also where a part of me will forever be 20, watching reruns of “Seinfeld,” eating tortellini at the supermarket, and slowly falling in love in a British boy’s dorm room.

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