Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To the Bay and back

After I graduated from law school I lived in Norfolk, Virginia for a couple of years. To me that time in my life represents my first real time as a grown up - my first real job, my first apartment alone, the first time I spent an appreciable amount of money on dry cleaning.  It was there that I realized my true mission in life was to work with cities as I worked for the city's inspiring mayor.

It's been nearly seven years since I moved to Michigan, and I have lived here more than twice as long as I lived in Virginia. Regardless, every time I go to Norfolk I feel a since of nostalgia for the time I spent there. I feel nostalgic and yet so proud of the continued revitalization of the city.  Two of my siblings still live there, and we headed down this past weekend to meet our new nephew and visit our family.

When I lived in Virginia I wasn't a runner. I spent a lot of time power walking and riding bikes with my sister, but it never occurred to me to pick up the pace and start running. Now, when I go for a visit, I have to lace up my shoes and explore. My brother and his family bought a new home a few months ago in a neighborhood I'm not familiar with, and it was our first time staying with them. Twice during our stay I headed out to run on beautiful sunny mornings that were begging me to take advantage.

As I'd never been to my brother's neighborhood, and I used a cross street as a guide as I threaded back and forth through the streets. After only about a mile I realized I was on Ocean View Avenue, a street I lived on during my last few months there (although this was quite a bit south of where I lived). I saw the walkway to the public beach access and made my way to the beach on the Chesapeake Bay.

Stopping for a photo at the Chesapeake Bay halfway through my run
No matter how much I protest that I don't really care for the beach, there is something so amazing about having the beach to myself during a deserted morning run. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and I felt that runner's high that doesn't often come easily for me. As I headed back to my brother's house I reflected on how grateful I am to have lived in a community that has such diverse assets - a vibrant downtown, thriving neighborhoods and the natural beauty of beaches along the Chesapeake Bay.

The trip included obligatory trips to some of my favorite places in Norfolk - Ghent (particularly No Frill Bar and Grille and Running Etc) and the MacArthur Center Mall. I HAD to get my Dillard's fix. As we drove around downtown I marveled at the beauty of the new light rail and the new developments that masterfully combine mixed uses to continue the vibrancy of downtown.

I've created quite a life for myself in Michigan, and I'm happy here. But every time I visit Norfolk I realize it has a little piece of my heart and it probably always will. So on each trip I will visit my favorite places and take a quick run to the Bay and back. 

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