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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Wide Open Spaces

Last Wednesday evening, I was flying to Charlottesville via Washington Dulles – a 20-minute flight. Dulles was crowded – pre-COVID crowded – O’Hare at Christmas crowded. I stood awkwardly, hoping to board soon, while daydreaming of taking a bath in Purell during takeoff.

The plane boarded and we began to taxi down what felt like the longest runway in the world. We crept along, taking in the sunset of turquoise and orange.


What’s striking about landing in Virginia isn’t the green grass and trees or even the mountaintops. It’s that houses and buildings don’t crowd one another. They’re socially distant. Spread apart from one another. It reminds me of the Dixie Chicks (or whatever they are calling themselves nowadays – The Chicks?) song Wide Open Spaces.


It’s like the houses and their inhabitants can exhale, drop their shoulders.


Recently, Andrea and I had a conversation about if we would move back to Massachusetts. And, in short order, we concluded we wouldn’t. It’s not just the wide-open spaces that are alluring - it is the mountains, the green, the pace, the cost of living, the people are friendlier. All of this creates space for at least the feeling of possibility that seemed absent in the hustle and bustle of the northeast.


My mood has improved from what it was in my last posts. Whenever I feel that way - sad, angry, grossly disappointed in humanity - I shift my focus and ask myself, “Okay. What is it you’re grateful for?l”. This stops me from thinking about all the stuff that I think is bullshit.


When my plane took off from Charlottesville on Sunday - a yellow hot air balloon dotted the sky. We passed it on our ascent. I’m grateful for cheery hot air balloons, seeing my colleagues in real life, the graffiti if “Hi! Nice day! that someone wrote with a black sharpie on the sign by the elevator at the now familiar hotel in Danbury, CT.


My plane glided over the Charlottesville area, descending. It’s much darker below than it is in most places I’ve landed at night – due to those wide-open spaces.


This week has been weird – five days of work crammed into four, the Inauguration and Andrea learning that her company was laying off many of her colleagues. Andrea was spared. This is the sort of event that gets your attention – particularly when you packed up your lives, bid your tribe a farewell, and then attempted to acclimate to a new place during a pandemic. Andrea’s been processing all the usual emotions you cycle through when you lose colleagues to a layoff. I don’t know why some people go and others don’t but I’m grateful we both survived recent layoffs. I look at the layoffs at Andrea’s company (and mine) and all I can say is that the universe continues to have our backs and that we didn’t come this far to fail. There is meaning and purpose in the move we made from Massachusetts to Virginia almost 11-months ago, even if we haven't quite figured it out.



She needs wide open spaces Room to make her big mistakes She needs new faces She knows the high stakes

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