When I moved away from Blacksburg a year and a half ago, I was ready for change. I needed a break from the ‘college world’ that had helped me grow so much, but was a constant cycle in a university town. My time living back in my Maryland hometown has felt pretty low key, pretty steady. But when I visited Blacksburg last weekend, I realized that in many ways I’m a much different person now than I was when I lived there.
As any Virginia Tech Hokie knows, “This Is Home” is the phrase used by VT Athletics to describe Blacksburg. And however cheesy it may sound, it really rings true when you come back to visit this beautiful town in the mountains. Strolling through campus, getting brunch at West End, watching a basketball game in Cassell Colosseum, eating Carol Lee Donuts, seeing old friends at church and around town- it’s all so familiar and nostalgic. It makes a little part of your heart wonder “why’d I ever leave this place?”
Last weekend it was a big part of my heart that asked that question, so my brain started thinking about why I did leave and how I’ve really grown as a person since coming back to my ‘home’ home in Maryland. Things have been so steady here, have I really changed that much?
For one, I’m more involved in people’s lives around my neighborhood and community than ever before (If you haven’t, be sure to read this post from last month). Between small jobs, yard work, chauffeuring people around and dog sitting, I’ve been sucked into this beautiful little network. It’s a brand of relationships and dependency that I’ve never experienced to this extent before moving home. I’ve also been able to be more present to my MD family and friends that I was already close with, which has made those relationships that much stronger.
Through these relationships and through my job in retail, I’ve become so much better at communicating with people. Better at having conversations, listening, speaking up when something needs to be said, genuinely being engaged, actually caring about random things. Sometimes I’m so surprised (in a good way) at the words that come out of my mouth, because they’re either much more caring or much bolder than I’m used to expressing. Life’s too short to waste time on miscommunication.
This one may sound bad, but I actually love animals now. You guys, I’ve always liked animals. We grew up with a black lab, a striped cat, and countless fish over the years, all who got plenty of attention and love with four kids running around the house. Animals just never were my passion, and I kind of had a limit to how much I wanted to interact with other people’s pets (My germaphobic self also came in to play here, but that’s a story for another day…). But now, my dog Domino is my BFF. My cat became my baby in his final months of life last year (RIP Prince Stripes). If I see a dog on the street, I want to be its friend. It’s a wild world, but I’m an animal lover now.
There are other changes I’ve seen in myself, but these are some of the biggest. My time visiting ‘home’ in Blacksburg helped me see the ways I’ve flourished in my coming home to Maryland. I may not stay here forever, or stay away from Blacksburg forever, but there’s always something to be said for coming home.