It all started with, well, I guess I can't really remember what started it. Maybe it was high school, and my friends, and the early meetings at the coffee shop for caramel lattes before class. Or the cross country practices where we set off toward downtown to do the Market Run, sneaking by the front desk of Hotel Roanoke and asking for those warm chocolate chip cookies they give to guests when they check in.
It could have been college, with the books and the parties and the professors who taught me so much more than they may ever know. Living with my girlfriends, figuring it out, getting my heart broken, putting it back together, and first crossing paths with my soon-to-be husband on that ridiculous October night. Longwood and Hampden-Sydney and big brunches with the friends that became family every Sunday morning in a dining hall somewhere.
And then, of course, was grad school--moving to Charlottesville and the coffee shop where I worked and my master's thesis and so many Disney princesses. The first place Rob and I really shared a home, even if we were both living the lives of students. Our friends Patrick and Chad lived across the parking lot from us and Shawna and I ran together and had coffee and met for lunch every week.
At this point, I even look back what seemed like challenges as good times. Rob lived four hours away in DC for a time while I was in Roanoke, and we had some of the best weekends. Getting to know new friends and exploring a new city; having him come home for the weekend and just lying in bed together on Sunday mornings (sometimes with Rocky, when he'd let me put him between us and then actually stay there--he hated being on anyone's bed but his own).
When Rob first moved to Minnesota, I stayed in Virginia for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest was so I could spend more time with my dog. It was hard enough leaving him in August, but now I treasure the extra six months we spent together before I did finally move. We went on walks and I gave him treats and in the middle of the night he would walk down the hall from my parents' bedroom where he slept and fall asleep next to my bed until morning. He made me laugh and I sang to him in weird voices and took him to dog fairs and the Saint Patrick's Day parade where we had to stop every few feet to let some little child approach and pet him. They're good memories, even when I miss him so much that it hurts.
I have written about this countless times, and thought about it even more. It's nostalgia, and I love it even when it makes me cry. Looking back and writing about the past has always made me feel lucky to have such a wealth of treasured memories within. Everything back there looks golden and dewy from here.
And it has taught me to periodically take a step back, look at my present, and truly be thankful for it. Because time will continue to pass over golden years and (I've said it before and I'll say it again) those were the days, but so are these.
This post is in response to the following prompt: "What is your anchor, what you trust and know and can come home to over and over in your writing?" (From Old Friend from Far Away, page 238). If you've written a response of your own, please share it below in the comments!