I’ve just come back from a long breathing moment. A vacation of sorts. We spent several days in Chapel Hill, N.C., while my boys went to lacrosse camp. While they were in camp, I tromped around the University of North Carolina’s campus in the hundred degree heat, dripping with sweat. And I loved every minute of it.
I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill way back in the early nineties. I still remember the first time I set foot on that campus. It was in the spring and I was either a junior or senior in high school. My high school newspaper The Broadcaster had received several awards, including one for a story I wrote. The awards presentation itself is forgettable. But the moment I saw UNC is not. I fell wholeheartedly in love and I knew I wanted to go there more than anything else.
I still love that school. I spent six years there, walking every path it had. I know it like the back of my hand. I met my husband there, I got my first real job there in the R.B. House Undergraduate Library. Every step I made on that campus is part of my heart and I can walk them every day if I just close my eyes.
From Chapel Hill, I went home. The mountains of North Carolina. I walked the streets of my old hometown, Brevard, which has changed way more than UNC. But if I look close, I can find my footprints on the old sidewalks. Many of the storefronts are the same, although the shops behind them are vastly different. There is no dime store or Book Nook. The library I worked in for six years has moved to a much larger facility down the street. The movie theater is still there, as is the McDonald’s. And although Varner’s drugstore has a different name, the grilled cheese still melts on my tongue.
Those are the paths of my heart that run deepest. As I listened to a bluegrass band playing on Main Street, I looked at the sidewalk and remembered the times I’d walked or ridden my bike right over that same spot. I drove past my best friend’s house and remembered the hours I’d spent there with her, dreaming and talking, laughing and making messes in the kitchen. And I drove past the first house I ever called home. I looked right at the windows that used to look in on me as I slept during my youngest years.
We all have these paths in our heart. I cherish mine, even though the paths I walk most are the ones on the surface. I always know the deeper ones are there, and I can get to them whenever the pangs of homesickness strike.
Forgive the sentimentality of this post. I am, at heart, a romantic, so I can’t really help it. 🙂
HONEOWP Update: $25 donated to Bite-Back, Shark and Marine Conservation. August charity, continuing in the vein of beach conservation, is Oceana: Protecting the World’s Oceans. If you’re taking a beach trip this August, breathe in the salt air and think about what the world would be like if the water became too polluted to be near, or if the wildlife of the oceans were wiped out. If you’ve enjoyed the beaches at all this summer, consider giving something back to either of these charities.
WINTER SOLSTICE COUNTDOWN: Nine days!
EDIT: Oops. Turns out Bite-Back doesn’t take direct donations. So I purchased something from their shop and made July’s donation to Oceana, instead. My apologies for not reading their website more closely!