The husband and I took off this weekend for a long-overdue road trip to Blacksburg for a weekend, leaving our kids in Kerinda's (my sister) able care. It was Jason's fraternity's 40th anniversary, and brothers from the class of 69 on up were all there to celebrate. We had a great time seeing a lot of friends we hadn't seen in ages, hanging out and making fun of freshmen chicks.
On the way into town on Friday night we enjoyed a beautiful sunset - something I'd seen a hundred times or more while living in the mountains, but not once since moving to Richmond. We both enjoyed seeing the almost flouresent colors of the maples just beginning to drop their leaves. As night fell and we drove into town, I gazed up at the ultra clear sky, and enjoyed picking out constellations I'd forgotten in the two years we'd been gone. I felt like Dorothy, revisiting Oz with it's colors and vibrancy. I kept thinking how everything looked so ALIVE, so crisp and clear. I could breathe better, I felt lighter, and I was able to clear my head and just take a moment to exhale.
On Saturday I took off by myself for the day to visit my old haunts in my favorite town. I took a quick drive through the mountains, visited campus and fed some ducks at the pond... visited the old neighborhood, stopped for the obligatory trip to the bookstore for more VT crap and wandered down Main with a cup of Mill Mountain steaming in my hand. I couldn't have asked for better weather or a better season to make my first return to the Burg in over 2 years. I came back with scraps of paper jotted with a million ideas for my clients, the office, a new business that I've been pondering for a few years, and generally making my daily life better.
I also came back with a renewed pride for my alma mater, and Blacksburg. The town has come together incredibly since the tragedy on April 16. The town has always been friendly, but seemed even more open and embracing than ever.
It was incredibly emotional to see the memorials and signs that has been placed throughout campus and the town in memory of the victims of that fatal day. The town of Blacksburg had placed flag poles for each victim lining Main Street, in the only open area downtown has - on a strip of grass that was donated by a church. It was beautiful to see the flags (each one representing the nationality of the slain individual) lit at night.
On the busy, bustling drillfield the students had chosen the most beautiful spot on campus to create a memorial, which was made permanent by the university several months later. A stone was placed with each victim's name, carved from the same "Hokie Stone" that is the very foundation of our campus. I was struck by the way in which students lowered their voices when passing, the variety of persons paying tribute at the memorial, the notes left by the stones for friends and loved ones, and a single rose, laying in the middle, next to the stone proclaiming "We are Hokies. We will Prevail." I took the time to go through it, reading each name, and the gravity of what the families and friends of these victims must have, and still do, experience really sunk in for the first time since that fatal day.
I left Blacksburg reluctantly today. While I was incredibly anxious to see the girls and get back to my daily life with them, I couldn't help but notice the haze, the dimmed colors and the diminishing natural beauty as we traveled Eastward. I'm happy to be home with our family, and ready to move onto the next adventure, but I think I may have left yet another piece of my heart back in the 'Burg.