The travel bug hit us last weekend.
We didn't really plan ahead enough to fly anywhere. But we still wanted to get out of town.
Steven and I first met each other in a tiny little college town about three hours south of here. And this past weekend, for the first time in nearly 3 years, we decided to take a trip back.
Back to Lynchburg. Its like some sort of strange vortex that, once you've lived there for any amount of time and then move away, it starts itching at you to go back. You know, just to "see what its like." To see what's changed.
In some ways, it changed drastically. Like a younger sibling that suddenly grew up while you were away. You hardly recognize it.
Like this giant "LU" that they've carved onto what used to be lovingly referred to as "the Bald Spot". (Cue the collective gasp of horror from alumni...)
And that spot in the way back of the parking lot where you used to leave your junker car all summer, coming back in the fall to flat tires and a mouse in the exhaust? Yeah. Its a Barnes and Noble now. Ah, progress.
A Barnes and Noble with an unbelievable school-related merchandise section, I might add.
Also, a Barnes and Noble that sells my brother's band's CD.
Its on sale, too, apparently. :)
And, as if all of this grand improvement weren't enough, they are building a ski slope on the top of Candlers' Mountain. Wow.
Despite all this seeming change, in other ways, Lynchburg is still comforting and familiar. Like a favorite t-shirt. You know just how its going to feel, even before you put it on.
For example, Steven will forever be enshrined on the wall of his former workplace, O'Charley's.
See what I mean?
The Waffle House is still there, too. And its still trashy. We had either forgotten how bad it used to be, or we've gotten more demanding in our hygeine level requirements for dining establishments. (Steven sent his fork back and requested a clean one. Twice. And then he said he didn't want to finish the last half of his cup of coffee, because he "wasn't sure what was at the bottom of the cup." And he didn't want to find out.)
And our dorms are still right next to each other.
Steven used to walk me "home" to the front door of my dorm when I'd get back to campus after working late at the TV station. Come to think of it, I bet he was breaking curfew to do that. Ooh, I'm telling....
And the stairs that my roommate, Kera, fell down and broke her right arm the first week we lived together, requiring us to get REALLY comfortable with each other, REALLY fast, since I basically had to dress her every morning? Yep, the stairs are still there. I remember her big green cast like it was yesterday.
All in all, its looking a good bit more collegiate these days.
Although there was still randomness to be found. A giant paperclip made from PVC pipe. Why, LU? Why?
I told Steven they must've hired some good marketing/PR people. The branding has greatly improved.
As we meandered around the campus, I had visions of bringing my kids here someday, dragging grumpy pre-teens down the sidewalk by my old dorm room, and them being more interested in when they would be able to get back to their iPods in the family car than my next landmark sighting.
"Oh look, kids! This is the road where Dr. Falwell used to try to run over students in his giant black SUV! Isn't that great! Kids? Kids? Hello?"
The air was thick with memories as we walked around, and part of me felt like I could jump right back into classes as if it were yesterday. (That is, until I saw a couple of collegiate-aged kids sitting at the new campus bookstore. Oh dear Lord, I am practically ancient. Vintage, even. I was around when DeMoss was only one story tall. I know. Its shocking.)
There are still a few untouched corners that haven't been subjected to "improvements" yet. Here's the library, wherein I spent many an hour trying to make EBESCOhost work in my favor. (It was futile. EBESCOhost was doomed.)
We also took a little tour of all our old apartments. Little did I realize, but we must have lived in some sketchy places. I was afraid to unlock the door on a couple of stops.
In this lovely one-bedroom apartment, you can experience early AM ambulance visits, as a neighboring resident is carried out of his apartment on a stretcher. Presumably from some sort of chemical dependency issue. Delightful.
Similarly, in this beautiful old two-bedroom with wood floors and a cozy breakfast nook, make sure not to let your roommate lock you out, or you'll have to sit on the stairs and watch all the crazies walk by. And boy are they crazy.
Or perhaps you'd like a room in the suburbs, where the rednecks party until the wee hours and your roommates accidentally burn holes in the deck.
We visited downtown Lynchburg and our favorite restaurant. Yep, the one right next to the pawn shop. Jewelry, music, guns. Classy.
At the pawn shop, Steven showed me what he wants the basement to look like someday. (Keep dreaming, sweetheart.)
We checked out a couple of antique stores. Steven found a new friend.
Yeah, we spent some great years in this town. I started school in the Fall of 1999, and finally left town a week after we got married in 2004 (only to start law school a week after that! Oy vey...)
Here's where Steven bought my engagement ring.
And here it is, cleaned for the first time in five years.
We visited the church where we got married. I still think its the prettiest place in town.
And I struck a pose, just for old times' sake.
Hard to believe its been five whole years already.
A little older, a little wiser.
And just as much in love. Happy 5th Anniversary, dear!
(Aww, that was so sweet I nearly choked on all the cheesiness.) :)