BLACKSBURG, VA – The first time I ever went to Virginia Tech, I was incredibly sick. I hadn’t eaten in a couple days, and I was trying to get my energy up for a wedding in Richmond. The way the person I was with talked about Blacksburg, it sounded like she was telling stories about a member of her family. I didn’t understand it, during any of the times she’d reminisce, or even on the drive up when she started rattling off all the places she wanted me to see.
We only had a few hours, but we stopped at Rivermill to eat (okay, she ate, I stared at a plate of fries like they had suddenly grown limbs), grabbed coffee at Bollo’s and made our way to the Drillfield and the War Memorial. It was obviously as impressive as I expected it to be, and it was hard not to be struck by the contrast of the stone buildings against a backdrop of mountains. All college towns are unique snowflakes. It’s just easier to see how special some of them are than others. And there’s no doubting how beautiful Blacksburg – and Virginia Tech – really is.
Still in a stupor and haze from not enough food and too much cold medicine, we got back in the car. I was ready to close my eyes and steal an hour or so of sleep, when she turned to me and put her hand on my shoulder.
“I’ve got to make one more stop,” she said.
She took us to the Kroger down the street and told me to stay in the car. A few minutes later, she walked out with a small bouquet of flowers. I held them in my lap, and she didn’t talk much as we drove back toward campus.
We went back to the Drillfield, and she held my hand as she made her way to a group of stones not far from Burruss Hall. She set the flowers down next to one of the stones and we stood in silence for what could have been 30 seconds or three minutes. Time doesn’t matter. Time doesn’t exist. Moments do. And this was one of those moments I’d never forget.