There aren't many places I'd turn down traveling to, given the time and money, but I find myself most drawn back to Vermont. I only lived there for the four years I was at Middlebury, and I've only been back a handful of times since graduation (nearly ten years ago!), but I long for it all the time. The nostalgia is particularly powerful come the changing of the seasons, which are my favorite times of the year.
It's warm here in central Massachusetts today, and the air quality makes me miss the smell of mud and manured pastures. It'll probably snow a few more times before spring really takes hold, but that first stirring means the cool nights and clear days are coming, and I miss the valley between Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains so badly it aches.
I was talking with someone a few weeks ago, and they asked about how I ended up at Middlebury, it came up that my connection with Vermont goes back to the fact that my father grew up in southern Vermont, my Grandma lived there her whole life, and my parents met at UVM. Even my brother headed north to Johnson State for a few years. I'm no Vermonter by any standards, but my father's people were for generations back, and the place draws me. I've studied his family and they homesteaded all over the state; I wonder if there isn't geographical memory in my genes.
I grew up some 20 miles from where I live now, and I lived before this outside of Boston in a commuter city. I spent summers 20 miles from home in a different direction, so Middlebury was the farthest I'd ever lived from where I was born, and it's always strikes me that, my parents' house aside, that was where I felt the most at home. The town where I grew up is fairly foreign to me, especially now, and the majority of my friends from those post-collegiate years outside of Boston, who really made that place home for me, have scattered or gone in different directions, which weakens my connection to that place. I don't know more than a handful of people in Addison County, VT, anymore, either, but that doesn't stop me from playing out elaborate scanarios in my head about moving back there.
When I'm feeling cynical, I attribute this yearning to the fact that my years at Middlebury were the idyllic college years, where my cares were few and trivial for the most part, and there was some much to take pleasure from. I was young and unencumbered, living selfishly and purely for the exploration of the world around me. From my vantage point here and now, dealing with a bad economy, a marriage and a toddler, a mortgage, a job, that seems like an Eden.
The truth is, though, that I loved to wake up in the morning at look at the light over the mountains, whether it fell on brown and green in spring, hazy green in summer, gold and red in autumn, or gray and silver in winter. I loved hoping for a fiery pink sunset over the distant Adirondacks, and even more so being rewarded when we had one. It was easier to bear a hard day with all that beauty washing over you. I wish that I could experience that as the person I am now, with my family beside me.
Where we are will have to do for now. It's our home, and I love it for that, but the geography doesn't call to me the same way. Perhaps someday the right opportunity will come and I'll find myself back there. If it does, and you catch me bitching about mud season or snow drifts the height of the first storey windows, remind me of this post.
Labels: Middlebury, Nostalgia