An Open Letter to Athens, Ohio
The truck has been packed and moved to Morgantown, goodbyes are being said, and loose ends tied; I figured now was as good of a time as any to right down my feelings as I say let go of the place I’ve learned to call home the past two years.
Dear Athens, Ohio,
Two years ago, I agreed to come here to start graduate school and if I’m honest, you weren’t my first choice. You were maybe like, last. Due to circumstances and opportunities, I chose you. Hear me out, it was full of reluctance and bitterness that I did so. A summer of dreading and preparing and packing begrudgingly led me here, to a city and a state in which I didn’t know a soul.
I put on my big-girl-adult pants, plastered a smile to my face, and grinned and bared down for the first month or so of my time with you. I acquainted myself with strangers and created patterns and routines. Did the all the right things on repeat.
I hated every. minute. of it.
I started leaving you on the weekends because I couldn’t stand to be with you longer than what was absolutely required of me. 10 hour trips to Maryland was, to me, a small expense to pay to get away from you. Desperation and loneliness were my only companions when I was with you, so I ran away every chance I got.
Within the first 6 months of being with you, I was ready to call it quits. You weren’t giving me what I needed and quite honestly, I felt like I was pulling a lot of unnecessary weight. I considered going home again, but nothing panned out. I also was fighting an inkling that I was supposed to stay and give you another chance.
So I stayed. And as soon as I made that decision, you started giving back to me what I’d been pouring into you. You took down the walls of my bitterness and resentment, and showed me the quirky undertones of your hippie spirit. You brought me dear friends that began to love me for who I was and encourage me in the dark hole I found myself attempting to crawl out of. You brought me the love of my life, and if nothing else, I’m most thankful for that alone.
You brought me new purpose and people to love. You brought me challenges that inspired me rather than overwhelm my heart. I began to bloom with you. Yet, now as I’ve started to nuzzle into the new home you’ve created for me, it’s come my time to go. I knew it’d happen eventually, but I didn’t think it’d be so soon. I really love the life we’ve built together, hand-crafted along the way. Each scar and indent from the mountains and valleys etched along our path. You made me fall in love with you without my slightest acknowledgment; I just fell right into it all with no intention.
So to you, Athens, I owe an apology: for judging you from the first moment and projecting bitterness and resentment onto you that wasn’t yours to bear. I hated you because you represented all the things I thought I’d lost: people, dreams, a life I thought I wanted. However, I also owe you a heartfelt goodbye, full of gratitude. Know that it stings to leave you and the things we’ve built, the relationships we’ve cultivated, and the growth that’s flourished here. You ended up becoming home, words I never thought I’d say. And for that I am forever grateful.
I’ll never forget you and the time we had.
Here's to you, to me, and to new beginnings.