From There to Here

I was eighteen when I arrived at Mary Washington and I was ready for a new adventure on my own.

But leaving one place for another does not mean you leave who you are behind, a lesson quickly learned. I spent many lonely nights walking the streets of downtown Fredericksburg wishing I was somewhere else.

Sometimes during those late night wanderings I would stop at the top of one hill near the school. From the location I could stare up and see the lights of dorms and eventually the light of the new bell tower. It was from that spot I could see how the school sat high upon Marye’s Heights. I would stand there, in that spot that gave me the view of campus that was so vastly different than what the up close view impressed upon, and stare at it imagining I was somewhere else.

Night Lights: Campus View

Much time has passed since those late nights and now when I do walk it is rarely in the same painful stupor that pushed my soul to roam the streets.

I have not moved that far from my first new home in Russell Hall. I’ve been in other dorms, other off campus housing and now in an apartment on the slopes of Marye’s Heights. It didn’t occur to until a week or two after I had moved in but, I now live in apartments that sit near the spot where I spent so many nights staring up at the school. This realization held a weird narrative beauty. How strange it is that I now live on the hill that so many nights had seen me wish I was not living at all. If my life were a novel this would be the moment in the story where the main character realizes that the pain of the past had healed over, things have come full circle. Life isn’t perfect (is it ever?) but, I am thankful for those odd moments when the narrator in my brain makes me take note of how I find myself in the same location. It is in those moments that I realize what great distances I have traveled.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

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3 Responses to “From There to Here”


  1. 1 Jim July 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    And, as is always the case, once you understand what these Ithakas mean, you will have to leave. As Kafka notes—and it proves to be the truest thing in the world for me:

    “The Messiah will come when he is no longer needed.”

  2. 2 Gardner August 2, 2010 at 9:44 am

    A haunting and deeply poignant post.

    Here’s another saying: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

    I’m glad I was ready for you. Thank you for all you have taught me.

    Much love.

  3. 3 bill August 7, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    “wish I was not living at all” — had that happened, my life’d been poorer.


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