It's funny how life comes full circle. Ten years ago, almost to the day, we loaded up the car with our suitcases and boxes of things too precious for the moving company and our two cats-- at the time, Kelly and Sphinx-- and drove halfway across the country to Northern Virginia. Everything was unfamiliar, too fast-paced for me, at first. Then, slowly, I came to know the area. I knew which roads led where, and I understood the sense of humor, and while the stress we put on ourselves was all-too-real I became a part of that culture, and by the time I left-- really left, after graduating from college when I no longer returned for summer vacations and winter breaks-- I even had a bit of love for the place. It's fast-paced, yes, and there's definitely too much traffic, but it's charming in its way, and the closer into the city you are the better it becomes.
Three days ago, I loaded up the car. I loaded it with clothes and books and DVDs and a few precious objects that I wanted to make my room feel homier. I kissed our three cats goodbye-- still Sphinx, but now also Felix and Rhett-- and drove a few hours north along a now all-too-familiar highway. I've moved in a bit closer to the city this time, but I still know which roads lead where, and I still have the stops of the Orange Line memorized. Everything comes full circle.
But while this place is imbued with my past and memories of high school bleed through onto the streets and at the stops, I'm feeling so much more in the now than I have in a really long time. Today I crossed Key Bridge into Georgetown, knowing which roads led where, until suddenly-- I didn't. I crossed over into new territory where no past can bleed in and new memories wait to be made and for the first time in years I'm actually excited about doing something again. Even though I'd never seen the campus before, it felt like home. It felt like a place that I'd been waiting for since leaving my undergraduate program at William and Mary, like a weight lifted and finally a step in the right direction. I met some really great people who seem just as excited as I am, and as we discussed places we want to explore and cupcake shops to visit, I realized that the past doesn't have to follow me here and I have so much more to discover in the next two years than I ever thought possible.
And though going home I knew where the roads would lead, even the familiar had a new cast to it. Everything already felt different and shining in the late-summer sunshine.