One day, when I am older, I imagine I will have the occasion to look back on my life and write something like:
When I was younger, in my mid-twenties, I lived in the Museum District of Richmond, Virginia, a small city that awkwardly hung between Southern and hipster. Its buildings were old and elegant, constructed in the style of the Gilded Age. My apartment was a small one-bedroom in one of these buildings on a grand street lined with monuments, tributes to fallen heroes of the former Confederate capital such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The apartment came with warm orange walls and neighbors whose fighting reverberated down the hall.
In the springtime the District was at its loveliest, when the jasmine, cherries, and dogwoods opened their blossoms and their fragrance overtook the unpleasant smells of the city. In the afternoon, new leaves glowed nearly transparent in the sun. I worked from home at that time and would take walks on these evenings, wandering the city I had come back to, come back to experience for the first time. On some streets, you could find a block or two where not a sound was to be heard besides busy birds singing their delight and the distant traffic faded so far into the background as to become imperceptible.
My walks led me nowhere in particular, and not having any destination, I was free to aimlessly amble for as far and as long as I liked. Often it would strike me that although I appreciated the unique beauty of this city, I didn’t feel immersed in it. Richmond had not wooed me, not like Appalachia had, where I had fallen head over heels for the hills that hugged me and kept me warm on cold winter nights. I thought often of returning to its comforting arms, but as spring opened up into summer, I began to feel a different kind of pull. It was the pull not of comfort, but of the horizon and the unknown. The kind that makes you restless, not ever quite able to relax. Even as I would watch TV to wind down after work, my legs fidgeted and my mind wandered, because I knew out there, beyond the boundaries of my familiarity, there were bigger mountains to climb.
Someday I will look back and write that.