On Both Looking Back and Looking Forward

On Saturday morning I woke up in Charlottesville with a headache, squinting as I almost fell out of bed in search of my cell phone. The bed-side tables in our room had already been moved, so everything was sprawled across the floor along the edge of the bed. 8:03 AM. It's only been a week, but I'm used to being at the office with caffeine already freely flowing through my system by 8:00. I slipped into some yoga pants and threw on a tank top, now searching for an umbrella as I made my way to the door. Rain fell down in a gentle mist, and I could feel it before I even saw it. The morning was chilly and wet, a combination that never fails to awaken something inside of me that I love.

I walked that familiar walk from our apartment to The Corner, stopped at Starbucks for an iced coffee, and then walked back. It was quiet, hardly anyone was out, Rob was still asleep at home, and I thought about how much I love these quiet mornings where I steal away by myself and then come back to wake him up for breakfast.

The rain does this to me. Cold mornings do this to me. Fall does this to me. The beginning of spring does this to me. Hell, every cup of Earl Grey does it to me. I am nostalgia's servant, through and through, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

When it's rainy and grey, I think about my old college apartment, where I lived with three of my girlfriends. I think about Norton Anthologies and Shakespeare and Ian McEwan and writing papers and doing everything with my friends. Bar nights, thousands of pages of reading, weekends at Hampden-Sydney. I look back and think, "Those were the days."

When it's rainy and grey, I think about living in Roanoke for a year while Rob was still at Hampden-Sydney. I think about sitting in Mill Mountain with a cup of tea and a book, and I think about how lovely it is to spend a rainy afternoon at the lake. I think about Rob moving in for winter break, mornings getting breakfast at Aesy's across the street, then coming back to that apartment with the cement floors and the brick walls.

I think about driving to Hampden-Sydney on the weekends, and the Winter Ball, and Frat Circle and having breakfast all together in the dining hall on Sunday morning. I think about Farmville and what a wonderful little college town it is, and how every time we go back, I feel like a little piece of me is put back into place.

And now, when it's rainy and grey, I also think about Charlottesville. I think about August morning runs with my beautiful friend Shawna, when it's muggy and hot already at 7 AM. She would run to my apartment and we'd run to the Farmer's Market, stop, walk around with iced coconut chai, buy tomatoes, and then go home. Or we'd run just out of town to a trail where it always seemed wet, in the shade on a gravel path into the woods. We'd stop at Atlas Coffee on the way back in, walking the last half mile with warm or cold drinks depending on the weather.

I think about opening the coffee shop on the Downtown Mall every morning, and getting off work by noon every day, and spending the afternoons at home by myself with books and my thesis or episodes of LOST with Rob.

I think about our little home, that apartment on The Corner with the tiniest, shittiest kitchen you'll ever see and the loudest neighbors you'll ever hear, and I miss it already because it was ours.

When I think about Charlottesville, I think about this quick moment in our lives--barely even a year--that I needed so very much. When I find myself dreading the unknown length of time in which Rob and I will be at least four hours apart, I seek comfort in knowing that after every new experience we go through, I look back and think, "Hey, those were the days."

I think life is wonderful that way--it's a circle in which you enjoy a specific moment of life, then miss it when it's over, all the while creating new memories that you'll soon look back on with love. We leave little pieces of our lives everywhere.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."
--A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh