One year ago yesterday, Daniel and I (and a small caravan of Daniel’s family members – mine were waiting for us in Virginia) packed up the final fragments of our possessions, got in my trusty old Saturn, and started the drive up to Virginia. I had never been to Virginia and Daniel had never been to Charlottesville. We’d rented a place with the help of a friend, but otherwise had seen nothing of our new home.
I don’t think there was a way I could have fully comprehended what this first move totally away from anything familiar would mean for us, or how it would change us. It has been lonely, exhilarating, difficult, and joyous. Daniel and I cemented our relationship here like never before. I learned to enjoy cooking for myself. I survived a winter that lasted longer than I anticipated, but not without long bouts of depression. I wrote 314 blog posts, visited lots of new places, cried innumerable times, and got caught up in the beauty of my new surroundings. I decorated (and redecorated) the apartment, made some real money selling vintage, and learned random new skills.
August – Got a job at a local coffee shop (best job ever) / Bought pet rats / Watched a meteor shower on a farm / Saw Ralph Stanley in concert / Saw Obama on the Downtown Mall
September – Started ballet classes / Decorated the apartment / Celebrated my birthday alone / Visited Waynesboro and Staunton / Joined the Evening Choir at church
October – Attended the Black Voices Gospel Choir concert / Dressed as a flapper to attend a Halloween party / Fell in love with Cafe Au Lait / Survived Frankenstorm
November – Toured Luray Caverns and Woodstock, VA when Daniel’s dad was in town / Discovered the Saunders-Monticello trail / Hosted Thanksgiving for my friends and sister / Visited Carter Mountain Orchard / Attended the Tree Lighting ceremony
December – Saw snow / Went to Baltimore for the first time / Celebrated Christmas with Daniel’s mom and sister / Got a 50mm lens
January – Started Style Wise / Visited llamas at my friend’s farm / Wrote some poems
February – Questioned everything (the cold darkness of winter seeped into my heart) / Found meaning in practicing Lent / framed Daniel’s great grandparents’ marriage certificate
March – Presented a homily and got Freshly Pressed / Had a snow day / Visited Richmond / Celebrated Easter
April – Started a new job / Went to the Tom Tom Festival / Visited Jacksonville for my sister’s graduation
May – Had an article published for Relevant Magazine / Questioned everything / Went to Richmond for Memorial Day weekend
June – Visited Skyline Drive for the first time
July – Traveled to Baltimore for a family event / Celebrated Independence Day in Harrisonburg / Visited Baine’s in Scottsville / Celebrated Daniel’s and my 3 year wedding anniversary / Wrote a guest post for a friend’s blog / Explored the Virginia countryside
Phew! I know the above summary is more for me than for readers who are interested in actual writing. So where am I one year later?
In some ways, I feel like I’m starting from the beginning. I have a full time job that I’m still adjusting to, a good friend is moving away, and many of the social activities I enjoyed in the fall have been made unavailable to me due to work hours. I like myself better and I love Virginia, but I’m more homesick than I anticipated; it’s starting to hit me how much we’ve missed out on in the development of our friends’ lives due to distance and busy schedules. To be enveloped by the mountains can be a comfort, but it also serves as a visible sign of our isolation. Because, as much as we’ve tried to reach out, to branch out, we still feel alone much of the time. Life never gets easier.
But overall, I’m pleased that we moved to Charlottesville. I could settle down here and stay for a very long time. I hold out hope that things will get better soon.
2 thoughts on “one year in Charlottesville”
Leah, your self-awareness is what makes you such a wonderful person. Charlottesville loves you. At this point, it will always be a special part of your life. You could always try embracing that idea when you’re most homesick for family. Bravery is what makes you grow and life is a constant change.
Virginia is a very special place. It’s beauty, diversity, rich history, and opportunities to enjoy culture and National Treasures is extraordinary (Northern Virgina and Washington DC, especially). My heart is in those mountains. When I first left them, my stomach felt sick for a long time. Ultimately, I am returning to them. Every Spring is more green than Florida. There are so many song birds in Virginia and the woodland wildflowers, oh my. The diversity of flowering plants is amazing. Florida has great flowers, but you see the same thing over and over. There’s a romance to the seasons in Virginia. The folk musicians are unsurpassed. I could go on, Leah, but I have made my point. I love Virginia and my heartbeat is in my Valley which also took away the breathes of Washington, Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Adams, and so many others.