Abby Lee: 188 Miles
There are one hundred and eighty-eight miles between where I stand now and the mountain I will stand on in three months. Here are my roots, and there is the impossible orchard. The more I think about it, the less I’d like to think about it. Confronting the reality of leaving Raleigh ― and Wakefield ― is more daunting than I care to admit. I have been lucky to come to know this city like the back of my hand, and I’ll confess that I’m anxious to relearn a new place the way I’ve come to learn Raleigh.
You see, we have a mutual understanding, Raleigh and I. For better or for worse, I have memorized these streets, and they have memorized me in return. We’ve spent the past fourteen years swapping idiosyncrasies and keeping each other’s worst secrets, from the massive crack in the concrete behind the green gas station on South Main to the hidden detours you can get away with speeding down. All of this is as much a part of me as it is part of the city’s skeleton.
I believe that what I’m trying to say in my own convoluted way is a bittersweet thank you. This is my expression of gratitude to the city that loved me relentlessly. Raleigh, I’m sorry for wanting to leave you so badly for so many years. I’m sorry for pretending that New Hampshire was my home when it was so much colder to me than you ever were. I’m sorry I didn’t learn the names of your trees until this month ― goodbye Eastern Redbuds, goodbye River Birches, goodbye Crepe Myrtles.
To Raleigh, to Wake Forest, to Wakefield: I love you endlessly. To my family at The Howler: I’m astounded by us every day. We are the artists and musicians and astrophysicists and writers that the world is holding its breath for. Our futures may not align with one another’s, but they align with the stars, and I know that absolutely each and every one of us is going to change the world. Thank you for everything. I can’t wait to say I knew you when.