Steiner, Elizabeth

Life is a Highway from NY to VA

I’m doing this, I thought to myself while hitting the part where 78 turns into 81 in PA back in May 2015, half filled with fear, half filled with happiness. I’m actually doing this. I’m actually chasing a dream. I’ll be down there teaching American-born adults English. When I’m not doing that, I’ll be running around looking for history or just enjoying myself. I’m twenty-four. It’s time to have some fun.

However, what exactly was this “this” that I’m talking about? It’s moving down to Lexington, VA. For a long time, I always had this need to live in VA. I don’t know what it was, I still don’t know what it is, but this state always had my heart. There’s something about this state. Just . . . something. It might be the history. It might be the fact that the people are generally nicer (although I do love the sass of my fellow New Yorkers). Maybe it’s the fact that I just feel like I’m home when I’m here. Maybe it’s the fact that I feel like I belong here. This is my place. My state. This is where I belong.

My mind begins to trail as I see nothing but trees, mountains, streams, and beautiful scenery . . . My thoughts are all over the place . . .

Would I have the chance to see Williamsburg? How about Richmond and the graffiti on Canal Walk? Or maybe even Historic Jamestowne? Would I have the chance to maybe just pick up and run to TN? I mean, I’ll be fairly close to Bristol (the town that both VA and TN share). Maybe I can visit my grandparents. They live fifteen minutes south of Wilmington, NC, in Leland, NC. I mean, sure, I just saw them since they were in NY for over two months, but I miss them more since they moved over ten hours away. Maybe I can see Skyline Caverns with my close friend Jenna. She is constantly in Winchester, VA, to visit her boyfriend and I have to drive through Winchester. It’s one of the first cities I hit after getting out of WV on the long trail of 81. I could also see the New Orleans Saints practice in WV at the historical hotel The Greenbrier. I know I won’t be anywhere near a beach – and I’m a huge beach fanatic – so I need to find a place that I can run to when I need to calm down. I have the perfect idea! The Roanoke Star/Mill Mountain Star. That’ll be my new place to sit and think. I can even watch airplanes fly into Roanoke’s airport. It is a gorgeous place; so calm, so peaceful, so . . . wonderful. I’m beginning to love and appreciate the ideas that are flowing as gently, yet occasionally rapidly, as a stream. That and music are making my over seven hour long trip that much easier, as well as easing my anxiety and fear.

I get off of 81 at the exit for Lexington. I begin to drive through a town that I know fairly well due to the fact that I’ve been here before to visit my best friend, Winston, while he’s been at law school at Washington and Lee University. I’m admiring what Lexington looks like again. I haven’t been here in a bit. It’s nice to be back in an historical area, and it’s even better that I’m back here in a state that I love.

As I pull up to the apartment, I begin to shake a little bit. This is . . . well . . . this is scary. It’s my first time out on my own. I actually live over four hours away from my family. It’s freaky. I begin to lug in my stuff. I meet my landlord, George, and he seems nice at first. That is until he says, “You’re a Yankee, huh? I hear it in yer accent.”

Oh, I thought to myself, this is going to be a mess. A real royal mess. Should I turn around and head home? I kind of want to turn around and head home. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I miss my life back in New York. I was fine up until George said something.

I crack a weak smile and respond, “I’m sorry, is there a problem? But yes, I’m a Yankee.”

He guffaws and asks if I’m going to stay or end up leaving because I wouldn’t be able to “handle people being nice to me.” I look him in the eye and have to stop my mouth from dropping to the ground at the pure stupidity of his question and comment. Of course I’m staying. Of course I’m going to finish what I started by being here. I’m. Going. To. Do. It. Here we go, summer 2015. I’m ready for you and I’m ready to prove people wrong. But most importantly, I’m ready to prove to myself that I can do this.