Looking Back vs. Building Up

On Sunday morning I woke up to a drizzly rain and that fresh smell of air that whispers promises of spring.

I poured a cup of coffee and Ender and I went outside for a walk, where it suddenly dawned on me that I had never done this before--the warmer air, the rain, the coffee, this dog. We are on the precipice of a new season in a new city, once again, and that means so much to me--new memories to make and routines to establish, but this time with the feeling that we are possibly here to stay, not just passing through for one summer, one fall, one winter, one spring.

Spring has such a familiar smell and feeling--it reminds me of chilly April mornings in Charlottesville, where I worked as a barista every morning and drank iced coffee all day while I wrote my master's thesis from the old kitchen table we borrowed from my parents' basement. Sunscreen and Shawna and Patrick and Chad and Rob--I had such a little family of friends right there in the neighborhood. We went out to dinner and ran together and had so much coffee and the occasional bucket of mimosas on a porch somewhere. Looking back on it now feels like such a dream--so idyllic, so long ago, so far from reach.

But more than that, the beginning of spring reminds me of Roanoke, and sitting outside at the lake wrapped in a blanket with a cup of coffee in my hand. Of sweet Rocky frolicking about, even at the ripe old age of fourteen. Weekday sushi lunch dates with friends and entire Saturdays spent downtown, just wandering. Wet grass and that early morning haze, hovering above the lake's surface. Our life at Smith Mountain Lake was something I always hoped--but never actually attempted--to emulate in my own home.

Nostalgia has always been a big part of my life, but lately it feels like more of a crutch than a source of peace. My family is changing and my parents have plans to sell the dreamy house on the lake that I have used to create and then safeguard so many memories over the past ten years. So much of me is in that kitchen, the bookshelves, scattered around that big open living room, gathered around the table. While I know that our lives are not where our parents live, I've still been struggling with the new, blank canvas that is stretched out ahead of us.

At what point do we have to stop looking back for comfort and start creating something new to stand on? There will still be coffee and friends and family and my sweet husband to wake up next to and that smell of sunscreen on my skin after a warm day spent outside. It's a new place, a new season, a new opportunity; and it can be either scary or inspiring. I'm leaning toward the latter--finding the hope that lives at the bottom of most things and using it to move forward--both because I want to and because sometimes, I have to.