(08/06/06) Dear Grandma,

Dear Grandma and Granddad,

It’s Amber! It’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written a letter to you. Last time I did that may have been High School, but it’s always better to be late than never.

Well, I’m writing for a couple of reasons: (1) to say hello and to update you on what’s going on in my life because I know you don’t use the Internet or Email; (2) to help me reconnect with you despite my living in Virginia; (3) to just say, “I Love You.”

Well, “Hello!” I’ve moved across the country! This time it’s for a long time! Up to three years! Here it is August, and I’m finally settled into my two-bedroom apt. in Blacksburg, Virginia. It only took me about two months! I don’t know if you remember, but Josh and I visited you both just before I finished up my courses at Chico State back in May. Then, I bought a plane ticket for June 3rd to fly out to Virginia to be with Josh and to prepare for grad school at Virginia Tech. (People around here just refer to the school as “Tech,” though.)

I fully expected to have so much more time left in Chico than I actually did. That last month flew by so quickly. Part of it was to do with school (trying to finish up my Masters degree in Instructional Design and Technology), the other part had to do with packing up the rest of my “Chico life.” It’s so hard to put your life into little cardboard boxes and bags. All I was thinking was, I’m putting some of my life in boxes, some of it in suitcases, and some of it in the trash. It’s amazing how much stuff a person accumulates. It’s amazing how long it takes to go through all of the stuff. I kept getting sidetracked and reminiscing. I even came across an old picture of the Forest Ranch cabin and smiled when I thought of the family gatherings we had there. I was so much younger then and life was so much simpler then, too. Sometimes I miss that.

Okay, so back to packing. Of course, there were a gazillion shoes to pack. Like Grandmother, like granddaughter! Sadly, they didn’t all fit into my three suitcases. There’s still two, maybe three, boxes back home of dress shoes that I’m begging mom to ship to me. I’m sure they’re all black dress shoes. Of course, I can’t live without them! Ha, ha!

Speaking of shoes, I just bought the cutest pair of dark teal wedge shoes. (Yes, ANOTHER pair of shoes I probably didn’t need, except that they were on clearance! Even better!) I love them. They make me look tall, they show off my finely-muscled cycling calves, and they’re surprisingly comfortable AND walkable. I’m sure you can appreciate what I’m talking about, Grandma. You’d love them, too. I actually thought of you when I bought them. They aren’t any good for dancing, but that’s okay. I’m actually really sad I can’t just come by your house to show them to you. When I come home at Christmas, I’ll show them to you. They make me feel tall, feminine, pretty, and they flaunt my hard-earned legs. Things like that are so good!

So, moving to Blacksburg went without a hitch. In these two months, I got settled in, found and got a job as a “Circulation Specialist” (aka, Librarian) at the Christiansburg Public Library only 20 minutes away from home. Since then, I’ve been very focused on triathlon training (swimming, biking, running), working part-time, and making new friends.

My athletic training has been pretty good this summer. It’s had some ups and downs, but last month ended up being a fantastic month in terms of quality training. I even entered a Time Trial. (A Time Trial is a point-to-point, straight-away bicycling race.) It was 16 miles long on “rollers.” (FYI: Rollers are a cyclists way of referring to rolling hills. Around here in Blacksburg, there are a lot of rollers. In fact, the entire area is nothing but rollers. “Flat” out here simply means, “less steep hills.” Ha, ha–it’s tough, but it’s definitely making me stronger!) Two women and six men competed in the Time Trial. How’d I do? Well, I came in dead last, but it sounds so much better to say, “I got second place in the women’s group!” Ha, ha! I’m not the athlete that Diana is, but at least I’m having fun!

The good news is that I was only 30 seconds slower than the person ahead of me. In addition to that, I actually did as well as (or even better) than a Time Trial I did back home (on very flat land). So, if nothing else, I’m learning that I’m getting stronger and better on these rolling hills. So, despite being last, I’m actually very proud of my progress! At this rate of training, the next time is guaranteed to be that much better!

My job as a part-time librarian is a lot of fun. I get to be around books, CDs, Audio Cassettes, magazines, articles, computers, and people all day. Did you know that our regional library system actually has over 3,000 DVDs available for free checkout? That’s more than the Blockbuster in our area has in circulation at any given point. The particular branch I work at also happens to harbor some fantastic dessert and pastry home cooks, so there’s always something yummy and sweet to eat in the breakroom! It’s a good thing I’m training as much as I’ve been eating! Oh, my! I really do like my job, though. The other staff members are fantastic. Everyone is so guinuinely sweet, sincere, educated, and an advocate of protecting civil liberties (and privacy) along with our freedom of speech and press laws. You wouldn’t think librarians could be so passionate or get so riled up over legislature, but then I never really thought about what it is that librarians actually do. Now, being one, I can see how legislature and bills that are passed truly affect access to information. There’s a lot we all as a nation take for granted, that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

Lastly, I’ve been really busy making contacts and friends. At first, I was nervous that I’d have a tough time meeting people. I couldn’t have been more ridiculous in my thought! Everyone here is so friendly. This community is really “outdoorsy,” too. I have a friend, Kevin, whom is taking me kayaking for my first time later this month! I have a handful of recreational cyclist friends who are turning out to be incredible people and truly incredible friends: Ava is this fantasticly beautiful, bubbly woman (and a mother of teenagers) whom I can’t wait to go club-dancing with some more! My other (cyclist) friend, Nick, is an incredibly open, honest, and adventurous man. He’s super quick on the bike and he’s also the humblest genius I’ve ever known. Then, there’s Luke. Luke is my twin. I kid you not! I truly think we were separated from birth! We look nothing alike, but we have near-identical personalities. So, when he and I are hanging out together, it’s double-the-trouble and fun, but uh-oh! Watch out if we’re both in a cranky mood! It’s Mr. Grumpy-Grumps x2 in a tornado of Irritability! Thank goodness we’re smart enough to stay away from each other when that happens!

On another note, I have some sad news to share with you both. You know how Josh and I have been married for just over 6 years? Well, this past weekend Josh and I officially separated. He drove away in the Ford Crown Victoria packed to the hilt with everything he could possibly need or want, en route to Los Angeles, CA to go live with his brother. I know this must come as a shock to you both. We’ve not yet filed for divorce as state laws require a “living apart” waiting period of 6 months in Virginia, but I’m sure it will happen all the same. The truth is, he and I have been struggling within our marriage for years. The positive aspect is that it didn’t fail due to a lack of love. I guess sometimes, “love just ain’t enough” to quote Bonnie Raitt. I still think there was something more we could’ve done, but then I can’t say what it would be. Sometimes, I feel that it’s not really over and we’re just taking a “badly needed break.” Who knows? Only time will tell, I suppose.

It was with reluctance we decided to call it quits back in June. Since then, he and I have diligently worked on becoming friends, strengthening our communication, and trying to rebuild our own lives while still keeping in touch with each other. I’m not going to lie–it’s been really tough. There are times when all I want to do is abandon my stuff and place here in Blacksburg to buy a plane ticket and come home to my family and friends’ arms. Yet, at the same time, this is what being an adult is all about. And it’s not all that bad. I do spend a lot of running and cycling with tears in my eyes, but it’s been manageable. Surprisingly, I’m not angry or bitter. I’m mostly just sad because I really do miss him. There has been a noticeable increase in my consumption of cheese fries smothered in bacon while handling this stress, but otherwise I’m doing quite alright. I have a good network of friends here and several positive avenues I can use to channel my energies into (read: exercise and academics). I will survive. Things are always okay in the end. You helped teach me that; thank you for that very useful life skill.

And finally, I wanted to remind you that I love you. I don’t call enough. I never visited enough. But it never meant that I didn’t think of you enough. I often do think of you both and miss you terribly, too. So with that, I certainly hope this letter finds you doing well. I hope you’re both feeling better than the last time I saw you. I hope you’re getting the chance to enjoy the late (and warm) summer nights back home, too. Have you gone dancing as of late? Granddad, have you seen (or dreamed of) anymore bears on rollerskates? Ha, ha! That story always makes me laugh. How are your roses and persimmon trees? Did you get any lemons this year? I always loved visiting you both, if nothing else than for all the laughter. *Sigh* We grow up so quick, don’t we? Before you know it, we’re all adults leading adult lives with all the responsibilities that go with it. I miss you both so much, but I also know that you love me as well. Three-thousand miles can’t take that away.

I plan to be home for Christmas, although when and for how long, I don’t yet know. I’d come home sooner, but school starts on August 21st with a full schedule of coursework, plus my job at the library keeps me here. I’m going to try to write to you weekly, so if my life is boring I apologize for the short and unexciting letters! It’s the best that I can do, though. You know that I hate talking on the phone … and then there’s the added problem of that pesky three-hour time difference anyway.

I love you, Grandma and Graddad!

Amber D. Evans