Sunday, August 26, 2012

When I was seven-years-old my dad got a new job. It meant our little family would leave the only home I had ever known, a split-level blue house with a garden and sprawling yard. It meant moving to a completely new neighborhood, with new friends, and a new school. I was devastated. What added to my heartache was my inability to do anything about the move. Oh, I made my feelings known, but my parents hadn’t consulted me about the decision. Which made me feel betrayed. Why hadn’t they thought about the impact this would have on me? Would my new home have a tire swing and a creek that ran through our backyard? Would my nearest neighbor friend be accessible through a hole in the fence and have crazy chickens and an abundance of raspberry bushes? Would I be able to ride my yellow bicycle down the dirt road behind our home, scouting for pheasants, as I experienced the pure freedom of childhood? I was at a loss for how to cope with such a transformative moment in my young life. I felt lonely and sad.

A decade ago I was at a similar crossroads. After having just graduated from college I was on the brink of starting my first “real job” and moving away. This time, however, I made the decision to leave my beloved Cache Valley. It would be the second time I felt my heart shatter for a place I adored. The very same place. A place imbedded in my soul. I knew if I left things would never be the same. I wouldn’t see my favorite people every day. Or frequent my favorite local haunts on a regular basis. I'd miss the landscape and all the familiarity of home. While people assured me that I could always come back and visit, I knew that leaving, leaving my home, and forming a new life meant I would actually have to develop a new life and engage in my new surroundings. Which meant acclimated to newness on so many levels. (You see while my adventurous heart delights in changing vistas and the excitement of adventure— unknown towns, foreign languages, unexplored markets and tastes— when it comes right down to it I think change, major change, permanent change, terrifies me.) As I left Logan the summer of 2002, my belonging packed into the first car I ever owned, I couldn’t help feel I was leaving one desert landscape for a desert of social isolation. Moving to a place where I knew no one. Knowing, in my heart, that I’d never live in that sacred place again.

Now, ten year later, it's fall of 2012, and once again I stand at the same mental crossroads. But this time we have made the decision to leave together. A familiar ache tugs my heart. With the full weight of knowing that once I leave this fair Capital City things will never be the same. Exciting prospects are on the horizon and certainly I’ll grow to love a new city, a place where I hear people are nice, but This Town (DC/Northern VA/MD) is where I grew up. Where I truly started to come into my own and experience who I was as an adult. Where I had my first crushing heartbreak and found my life companion. It's the city where I have meet lifelong friends and felt my heart expand to understand more about the person that I am. While I have taken advantage of numerous opportunities living here (visiting landmarks, museums, beaches, and countless restaurants), leaving means that I will no longer have these moments at my fingertips. Although I have mastered the art of finding a good parking spot and can parallel park like an olympic athlete, here I am, fully cognizant that when I return, I will be just another tourist. Which breaks my heart a fair bit.

In 2002, when I left Logan, my soundtrack was a Dixie Chicks cover. It became my moving anthem. It got me through a really rough patch. At the time I felt all the parts of me shifting, sliding into what could only appropriately be called a landslide.

* The paradox of loving two vastly different cities is not lost on me. Perhaps my old heart, the one that's getting older, just falls in love too easily. But that's a good thing, right?


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