Coming from a small, rural town where pretty much everybody knows everybody, I feel like moving away is a fairly sentimental point in my life. Yes, I lived in a dorm for 10 months and I'll be home for holiday breaks and a little over the summer - but my name is now associated with a rental property in another town. It's as if I'm leaving a family holiday knowing that I won't see a lot of those family members until the next holiday; because essentially your hometown is a part of your family, especially when almost your entire family is located right in the heart of the town.
So, this is my break up letter to my hometown.
Sometimes I cannot help but roll my eyes in utter annoyance at the ignorance that I've seen come out of this town. And other times, I cannot help but beam with joy and pride at the talent, creativity, and passion that has also come out of this town. On the surface, you are just like any other small town in America. But as someone who has lived here my entire life and has family rooted in your heart and soul, I know you are different in your own ways. You are unique and people truly do travel from far and wide to see the leaves you hold.
Not to be overly gushy, but I still adore you after 18 years. Yeah sure there's small-town drama, yeah sure there really isn't much nightlife, yeah sure I've been to pretty much every establishment, yeah sure our idea of fun is sitting in a parking lot with friends late at night or just driving around - but no matter how many times I've said you are boring and I couldn't wait to leave, now that the time has come I'm a little taken aback.
I fully meant that I wanted to (and still do) leave and go away for college, move into my own apartment with my friends and experience young adult life outside of a small town with everyone I grew up around.
But I didn't mean it in the sense that I wanted to leave behind the best burger place I've ever been to. I ate there three times a week, every week, senior year of high school, and STILL did not get sick of it.
And I didn't mean it in the sense that I wanted to leave behind the local movie theater on Main Street that's been around for at least my entire existence. That's the first movie theatre I had ever been to and where I had pretty much all of my first dates.
I also didn't mean it in the sense that I wanted to leave behind the landscape. The views are amazing, but the memories are even better. Hikes, lookouts, sunrises, sunsets. I know you can find these anywhere, but the ones here are dear to my heart.
I didn't mean it in the sense that I wanted to leave behind the little bookstore in the middle of town. I got my first architecture book from here and from there I was basically hooked. Friendly cats to keep you company while browsing endless shelves of old books is a perfect pastime!
And I certainly didn't mean it in the sense that I wanted to leave behind our lovely Shenandoah River.
I didn't mean it in the sense that I wanted to leave behind all of the little places that I have made so many memories. I never meant it in the sense that I would be happy moving away for, well, good.
No other area can replace you. No other valley, no other mountain range, no other river. No other restaurants, no other theaters, no other bookstores.
Of course, Blacksburg gradually becomes more of a home to me with each day I am there. Of course, I am excited to do my own grocery shopping and have a place to call home with my friends like an adult. Of course, I'm happy to be living the college life to the fullest I can.
But when I refer to home, I'll always be referring to you.