We roadtripped to Harrisonburg with my friend, Taylor, to take part in the Valley Fourth festivities this afternoon. Amusements included art booths, a couple food trucks, a BBQ competition, giant cups of lemonade, and bluegrass music by the Hackensaw Boys. We ate Polish cabbage and noodles for lunch, stopped into the Artful Dodger for drinks, participated in the People’s Choice voting portion of the BBQ competition, and chatted up Bruce Rosenwasser of Wildwood Design. The weather was pleasant, the journey was scenic, and the festival was fun. Virginia’s full of pleasant mountain towns with scenic downtown streets.
We headed downtown with my sister yesterday evening to witness the annual downtown Christmas Tree Lighting. Since we arrived early, we stopped by the coffee shop to say hello and pick up an iced mocha and mini muffins.
The tree lighting was a bit anticlimactic, but the weather was mild (though a cold front blew in swiftly last night) and the sky was teal after the sun set. After the tree was lit, we got some dinner at The Whiskey Jar, then shopped around before heading home.
Today is my sister’s last full day in town. We plan to buy a tree and make the house festive this evening. Christmas has been a letdown for me the past couple of years. I really want to invest time and energy in the season this year – I want to do things the right way and be thankful and warm and content.
We took a day trip over to the neighboring cities of Waynesboro and Staunton yesterday. While Waynesboro has a delightful Goodwill and a quaint downtown, the historical facades in downtown Staunton can’t be beat.
Brick, peeling with different shades of paint from at least a century’s worth of repairs and design preferences appeal to me because of the visual reminder of their age and history and, more simply, because of their unintended color stories, their unusual juxtapositions. They’re inspiring. I also enjoy the architectural details, so often disregarded in the design of contemporary structures in favor of cutting edge technology.
Yesterday marked the one month-iversary of our new life in Charlottesville. It’s incredible how quickly time has flown already. In most ways, Charlottesville already feels like home. But there are still loose ends to tie: settling into a church, unpacking and organizing the final traces of our move, finding a consistent group of friends to hang out with, and switching over my license and registration.
In one month, I (and sometimes Daniel):
- traveled over 12, stressful hours on rural streets and highways
- visited every grocery store chain in town (and still can’t find one as delightful as Publix)
- perused at least 7 antique shops
- bought an armchair and a vintage mirror
- bought a dozen or so books from local stores
- ate at Bodo’s Bagels 4 times
- interviewed for four jobs
- changed my mind about my immediate career goals
- got a job I love (for once)
- visited UVA
- felt consistently nauseous (it’s finally subsiding)
- stretched fabric across a canvas and made two photo canvases and three pillow cases
- bought pet rats (Surprise! I haven’t told very many people yet)
- watched the meteor shower on a farm while listening to acoustic improvisation
- assembled book cases
- celebrated a birthday (Daniel’s)
- saw a Bluegrass legend in concert
- ate lots of delicious food
- visited three churches
- freaked out, a lot
- revamped my vintage store
- made some friends
- toured the neighborhood
- saw Obama in person
- visited with a friend I haven’t seen since high school
I know – and fear – that as time inches along, I’ll stop caring about the little accomplishments, struggles, and tasks I experience each month; they’ll be compacted into a small blurb on the timeline of my life. But, looking over this list, I feel quite proud of how far we’ve come in one month. Moving, especially hundreds of miles away from your previous life, brings uncertainty – about identity, financial security, relationships. But I’ve reflected lately that moving away from an identity that is created for you over days and months and years creates a space for renewed liberty, a wider sphere of choice. I have a chance here to present myself and identify myself based upon who I am and what I believe and what interests me now without fear of rattling someone’s preconceived notions of who I am. I can take pride in what I have achieved. I can say to myself, “You are good enough,” for the first time in a year. The challenge will be to push toward that level of freedom and self-understanding as we scatter presuppositions and misunderstandings along our path in Charlottesville. What I’ve learned here in the last month is that we do have the power to change our lives. In fact, the daily task of life is simply making choices and living with them.
Yesterday evening was beautiful. I love the way the harsh, setting sun streaks across the images below and hyper-pigments the blue sky. We took a quick tour of UVA’s chapel before partaking in an evening service at the Episcopal church nearby. Thomas Jefferson was opposed to mixing religion with public higher education and never would have approved of a chapel on the Grounds. The structure was built in 1885, decades after his passing.
I took the photo of the pigeons earlier today after work. They perch there together quite frequently.