I’m sitting here to write this with a big old lump in my throat. You have no idea how much I am going to miss you.
You are so much more than “where I went to college.” You are where I grew fully into myself.
I remember my first week here. It seemed like 4 years were going to last forever. I remember thinking that it felt like I was literally going to be in college forever. I’d made friends, and we’d gone exploring and bonded and had fun together (I even had my best friend from home with me, and not many people get that luxury), but it just didn’t feel like home. For a girl who'd lived in the same place her entire life, it took a little adjusting.
Then, I suddenly started to feel more comfortable. As we spent our freshman year hunkered down in our tiny dorm rooms, hiding from blizzards (or, out playing in them), hiking, laying on Sanford mall, laughing in the dining hall, being driven around by our (very gracious and probably very annoyed) off-campus dwelling friends, falling asleep EVERY time a movie was on, napping in each other’s rooms (and in the library… and at other people’s houses… and on Sanford mall… and maybe even in class), camping, talking, learning each other's personality quirks and exactly what to make fun of about everyone, we became a family, and you started to grow on me.
Then, it was our little apartment, and no longer the microcosm of campus. Big dinners that took hours to cook, and movie marathons. Inadvertent conversations on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night. Snowy days, waking up and praying that we’d have an email from ASU Info telling us that the day was ours to drink hot chocolate and stay in our pj’s until it was time to go sledding. Taqueria Wednesdays. Legitimate spontaneous dance parties. Friends at 11. Ugly couch. Loud neighbors. Everything. It was in that apartment that we learned your ins and outs. We discovered the easiest ways to get everywhere and the secret corners of you that felt like they belonged to us.
And then, as I spent summers here alone, without my college-family, or my real family, I fell in love with you. I grounded myself in the community that I found at my job, one that was rooted in people who had spent their lives here, not just college students. I learned all of the best places to go running and see sunsets. I figured out where to buy the biggest, juiciest tomatoes. I acquainted myself with the back roads. I relished my drive to work, past that little white chapel and at least 3 Christmas tree farms.
I fell in love with the cool breezes and the endless rain. I reveled in mornings spent with the windows open, listening to the pitter-patter and reading Never Let Me Go 3 times. When the sun would come out, it was walks around Bass Lake listening to Yann Tiersen and watching the baby ducks.
You won me over.
And somehow, it’s time to leave. It feels just like I’m leaving home all over again, but maybe a little worse this time. I’m going to miss everything about you, Boone. I’m going to miss chaco-clad feet, and the way the sun sets right between the mountains if you’re driving down 105. I’m going to miss the people you gave me, and the solitude I cultivated in you when they weren’t here. For a long time I was afraid of my childhood home not feeling so much like home anymore, and now I’m fearing the rapidly approaching day when I’ll drive down the mountain for the last time no longer live here. You weren’t the home where I was born and raised, but you were the home where I got into my first real car accident, and you were the home where I created a little life for myself, and where I learned to deal with my fear of heights, and where I learned how to be happy. Pretty soon, you’ll just be somewhere I visit occasionally and reminisce about these 4 years, which have seemed like an instant.
The Triangle is calling me back, almost weekly now. There are more people there, which means more weddings and more work. If I could, I would stay here forever. I would happily spend my life here in a tiny cottage, enjoying your breezes and walks around Bass Lake. If I had a never-ending supply of gasoline, I’d stay. If you had a never-ending supply of clients, I’d stay. If only, if only. But Boone? I promise I will love you forever. You were the absolute best.
July 27th, there’s no rush.
*This was my overly-emotional way to announce that I'm moving back to RDU at the end of this month. Not that this move doesn't bring with it excitement and infinite career opportunities, it's just tough to imagine leaving this place. But, my gas tank is going to be very happy :)