I love you, but I have to leave you. Perhaps you can take heart in this: it’s not you; it’s me. Well, it’s kind of you. But it’s mostly me.
When I met you, I never thought this relationship would last as long as it did. I thought we’d have some good times, some laughs, some learning experiences and then I’d move on. But relationships take funny twists and turns and here we are seven years later, still making a go of it.
We’ve had a good run, you and me, Vermont. I never anticipated loving your proud Green Mountains, your stoic maple stands, your sanctifying lake, your jewel-toned foliage, your hardscrabble people, your homespun trappings and your can-do ways as much as I do. You have informed my worldview more than any college lecture or newspaper article ever could. You have taught me so much and I hope in some small way I have repaid the favor.
From you, I have learned how to be a better neighbor, lover, partner, friend. To be a better steward of your majesty. I have learned to how to hike a trail without looking down at my boots, to always keep my eyes ahead. I have learned how to distinguish different types of snowfall, to understand that January’s snows are different than those in March. Speaking of snow, you have taught me how to recreate in it, how to walk cautiously under trees heavy with it, how to get along in spite of it. You have taught me to endure, to suffer, to persevere. You have taught me about bounty, about growth, about change. You have taught me that you cannot stop pedaling if you’re biking up a hill — you will never crest it that way. Conversely, you have taught me that the reward for that slow, steady push is always that thrilling ride down.
Our relationship was one of firsts for me. They’re too numerous to mention. But suffice it to say, the firsts we experienced together will not be lasts, at least not for me.
I’m moving on to another place, a bigger place, a place not known for its singular uniqueness, its quirkiness, its winters. I will be warmer there, it’s true. But I will have to search harder to find its essence, to seek out what makes it special. It might not sing to me the way you do, Vermont. Its communities might not be as resilient, its people not as brave. There will be no admirable Yankee thriftiness, no charming glottal stops. Indeed, it is a company town, and that bears remembering. But it holds things I need to experience before I become too timid. Bustle, noise, variety, intrigue, the whole infinite and dizzying panoply of human life. Urbanity.
I do not take our parting lightly, Vermont. I may come to regret our break-up. I may yet feel the pull of your pristine ponds, your undulating pastures, the smell of your raw earth. If so, I know you’ll still be here for me, like family. I know you will envelope me as though I never left. You will tell me your secrets on dirt roads, in farm fields, from atop your many peaks. And I will listen, as I have always done. And I will be better for it.
I remain, devotedly yours,