When you’re 29 there are still a lot of new things that might be coming your way. The years were longer then and the end was not in sight. My 29th year with my birthday just a week away in May, 1982 found me driving through the night in my camper topped 68 Dodge step side en route from Lufkin, Texas to Afton, Virginia with all I owned in the truck bed and my fabulous German Shepherd, Jay Jay beside me on the bench seat. I’d been driving east into the night on I-64 with the excitement and trepidation of yet another beginning keeping me awake until finally, knowing I was close, I pulled into a rest stop, backed into a space and crawled into the back with Jay Jay. I slipped into my sleeping bag and with the smell of stale clothes and leather, a panting dog and dark starry skies I pondered my future. Tomorrow I would arrive at Akid Arabian Stud and take the reins as manager/trainer of an Egyptian Arabian breeding farm in Virginia, a state I fled as fast as I could after graduating from West Springfield High School in Fairfax county 11 years before.
I woke with the dawn on that auspicious day to a view over the Rockfish Valley from the top of Afton Mountain. This was not the Virginia of the DC beltway I fled. The sun was rising over the most verdant green valley I’d ever seen. Below was a patchwork of rolling hills, winding roads and streams, bright green pastures and hayfields dotted with farmhouses, and old, brick manor homes. From this mountaintop overlook I embraced this new to me world with heartfelt thanks and expectations of miracles yet to happen.
Now the years are much shorter and much of a life has been lived by that young fellow. Fate has smiled for the most part and miracles have indeed occurred. A forty year career in farm and estate brokerage has made me intimately familiar with those winding roads and the lives people live along them. Two children grew up safe, happy and well and like me have come to recognize what a special place we call home. I often pull over when I’m climbing Afton mountain on I-64 and take a moment to enjoy that spectacular view and give thanks.
Charlottesville has grown in those 40 years, mostly well, but that view is just the same as is was in 1982. The promise it showed me those many years ago was kept and is being kept still for those who choose to embrace it.