The first time I visited Harrisonburg was late October, 2005. I was 17 and took the wrong exit to get to campus. I ended up driving around downtown after getting off the interstate at 247 B. It’s impossible to contextualize twelve years in a modest amount of words, and I’m not going to try to do so here. But what I can easily say is that it was love at first sight.
I don’t know why, in the same way that elucidating something so mystically pure is easy to feel and an exercise in futility to describe. It just is. Harrisonburg is like finishing a complicated puzzle after having never seen a puzzle before. You just luck into this weird coexistence that fits together.
Harrisonburg will always be my home. Not simply in the sense that it’s where I well and truly grew up, but also as a time and place that I will always look back upon and know those were the days I took for granted. There’s something wonderful about taking a feeling for granted, because it means that there is nothing better to compare it to. We never place emotional weight on what we underestimate because we have never felt anything superior. The past twelve years have been the best.
What I’m coming to understand about home is that I love it for the campy, sitcommy, bullshit way that it manages to exist. Any and every television show about a friend group that is an extension of family, that doesn’t exist as individual parts but is rather a logical, singular entity, is unrealistic and probably harmful to normal social expectations. But not here. For as hard as it is to knowingly surrender that blessing, I’m comfortable and at peace with it. Home can’t be forever, but thankfully its memories are.
My one hope, beyond anything else, is that I’ve created something positive during my time here. Harrisonburg is special because it exists for itself. There would be no community without this community, without individuals supporting one another and sacrificing and being so fucking creative that it’s infectious. Hopefully my dumb writing, or a smile, a rare conversation I had when my face wasn’t buried in my phone, hopefully something I did here contributed to that community. And if it didn’t then that’s OK, too. I still have some folklore to tell to my grandkids one day.
So here is my community, my sitcom, and my first love. This is 247 B to me.