In July of 2015 I was accepted to App State and two weeks later, with the help of my incredibly loyal and supportive parents, my car was packed up, and I was headed to Boone, North Carolina. Roadtrips and moves were nothing new to me, but this was my first time going to a place without so much as an acquaintance. The transition was last minute and fairly random, but one of the most confident decisions i’ve ever made, and looking back now I see why. I am sixteen days from graduation and it is my last day here at High Country 365. I have to start saying goodbye to it all but for the first time since I started traveling, I’m more in love with the place that I am now than the daydreams of where I could be. It’s almost two years, two apartments and about 15 hair colors later and I am not ready to leave. I’m barely ready to write this because it forces me to think about leaving. But if any place is worth getting sentimental over, it’s Boone. So, here is my thank you to this lovely little city.
Boone taught me that being active can come naturally. For example, just walking across campus means pretty much climbing a mountain. On top of that, hundreds of trails means that free time is easily filled up with exploring our stretch of the Appalachian Mountains. Then there’s the hobbies and sports that remind you of just how great each season is. As soon as I learned how to snowboard, I went from disliking being anythwhere less than 60 degrees, to wishing for low temperatures and snow for better riding. Then Spring hits and all of a sudden the town takes on a new energy. Colors change and L.L. Beans are replaced with Chacos, students start lingering on Sanford to soak up the sunshine, and hours can be spent at the river. The bouldering fields start to get busier and more people are opting to take their energy outdoors instead of to a gym. Or it will rain for three days straight. But even then, stuck in the middle of a cloud, Boone knows how to be beautiful.
That beauty made it a comforting place to learn how to be alone. The tight-knit group of friends I was used to being surrounded by is now spread out all over the U.S. and since I was in the process of missing them I turned to places to keep me company instead of people. I discovered my favorite outlooks for different times of the day, read a bunch of new books and turned things like yoga and writing into a practice. Not that it wasn’t uncomfortable sometimes, I just learned that spending time by myself was better than spending time with people I don’t thoroughly enjoy the presence of. Lesson number one from Boone. Thanks to that, and the standards my previous group had left, when I was presented with the people I would be spending my time with, I understood how special they were. These people have decorated my time in Boone with memories.
Being here has taught me that everything happens for a reason. Who would have thought the cliches could be so right? …Probably the people who wrote them. I came to App because one best friend decided to surprise me for my 21st birthday. Coming here I developed a stronger bond with the outdoors and decided I wanted to find a job working outside. I saw a posting to work at a barn that does trail rides(Thanks again App State Classifieds) and a week later I’m getting paid to be around horses AND have a boss that was supportive and motivating enough to help me start showing again. Those coworkers became people I would laugh with over the next year and a half. Another “by chance” part-time job gave me friends that I could have intense conversations with for hours or sit quietly with and study…for hours. I found an internship that allowed me to focus on skills that I enjoyed but wanted to improve on, and ended up leading to my first career opportunity. But none of that would have happened without the little, and some big, things that happened in between.
It also deserves credit for helping me gain faith in humanity. After coming from a city where it could be dangerous to walk next door and borrow sugar, I couldn’t get over the overall friendliness of Boone. Maybe it was the multiple times I saw complete strangers on App State Classifieds offer support for each other, or the students with trucks offering free rides and towing when the snow was piled up. Or that time half of an apartment complex community helped me find my missing cat (Spoiler: he was hanging out at some other kind strangers house). Thanks to Boone I remember the inherent goodness of people. When I’m in another city where eye contact is frowned up and smiling is a sign of weakness I’ll remember to carry that with me.
This town gave me friendships and connections that will help shape my life. Mixed into all of my thoughts of the places I want to travel are now thoughts of coming back here and spending all of my time soaking up everything it has to offer. For someone who can’t seem to plant roots for more than a couple years at a time, someone who is constantly living two steps ahead of where her feet actually are, I’ve realized no matter where I am, Boone will always be with me.
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