Part One

I gave up New York City for pale blue mountains, pastures to roam, and a twinkling firmament. If younger Michelle knew what she’d choose, she’d weep until the cows come home. There was a time I dreamt of skyscrapers and luxury lipstick and coffee shop meet-cutes. It was a romanticized version of a city of which I knew no accurate reality– only the perceptions I could conjure from a slew of box office rom-coms and film noir classics. I saw myself a recent Ivy League grad, a real writer (Book deal! Brownstone! Not Daddy’s trust fund money, but money I earned from writing a bestselling memoir! Of what? Well, my suburban Americana glory, of course! Just kidding, no one would buy that. Someone tell her.) I’d only be in New York for the inspiration I’d find sauntering the streets clad in a peacoat and overpriced scarf purchased somewhere on Fifth Avenue. The city would only be of use when I’d need something corporeal enough to fall in love with. The city breathes, after all. But of course, that’s idealism speaking through the voicebox of a teenage girl in pursuit of an illicit affair with the universe. All cities have their own filth. New York is by no means an exception.

I wanted the capital C City for the lovers! The Breakfast at Tiffany’s aesthetics! Book readings and signings at art galleries over wine and fancy bruschetta! I wanted it all, so my heart led me to that image for years. There, in that fabricated Hollywood dreamscape, I yearned to be in the presence of icons.

I don’t know what changed. The scene lost its appeal. I like convincing people that I just outgrew it. It’s easier that way, at least easier than admitting I dove headfirst for a dreamer who called openness his home. A soul enamored of stars and hidden trails and muddy creeks, secret waterfalls and even deeper secrets shared under the shade of oak trees. But we’re not going to pretend he was the reason why I chose the Blue Ridge over the fallacy of fortune. He wasn’t. As much as it may seem like he was, he wasn’t.

I never beg for anything. It’s not in my nature. But this time, you have to believe me.

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