The year I turned 16 was one of the best years of my life.
My family moved for 1 year to Charlottesville, Virginia so my Dad could specialize further in his field at the University of Virginia.
Living there saved me - in so many ways.
That was the year I discovered TS Eliot, Zelda Fitzgerald, Thoreau, and Indigo Girl's Closer to Fine. I was pushed harder - physically and mentally than I ever had before with school and swimming. I had to defend my beliefs - frequently - which made my faith more poignant and real. And I learned there is a unique smell to the humidity along the Blue Ridge Mountains - a smell I have come to love - and it hasn't changed in the 4 times I've been back.
But the best part of all, I met some sweet people who have kept me close.
Last week I got to see one of them.
Alex and I met in AP US History & Honors English. I didn't realize until about 2 months in that we lived 4 houses apart. Alex made me laugh and think. He questioned everything I wrote, talked about and thought the entire year. And when I was ready to pull my hair out, he'd let me play basketball with him in his backyard. He also procrastinated more than anyone I had ever met - and still he was brilliant.
4 years later he was unbelievably nice enough to let me stay with him and his family in Athens for a week. Did I mention he speaks multiple languages? He graduated with his MA from Harvard and just finished his PhD at Berkley. Again - brilliant.
I haven't seen him in 10 years.
But this past week he and his beautiful wife Chrissie were here for a conference.
It was so good to catch up.