Sunday, August 29, 2010

trippin' part 4: me and Chatham

How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you - you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences - like rags and shreds of your very life.

~Katherine Mansfield

One of the places that I knew I had to see was Chatham Manor. I don't remember the first time I went there, but it quickly became one of my very favorite places. I know we brought my grandparents there when they visited when I was in 8th grade. And during high school, I went to at least a few outdoor string quartet concerts on the lawn there. I remember chasing fireflies with some friends as dusk fell. I remember taking my sisters there before we moved.

But perhaps mostly it was a place I often visited in my mind. It was my "special place" - a sanctuary where I could retreat and feel safe and at peace. And so when I was stressed or sad, I would often imagine I was there. I would imagine bringing my books and my journal and sitting among these gardens for hours or days at a time.

I also frequently imagined having my bridal pictures or engagement pictures taken there someday. And then after I was married far away in Utah, I still dreamed of going back and having pictures taken there in my wedding dress anyhow. Just because I wanted to. But I never did. And now, sadly, I would never fit into that dress ever again even in my fondest dreams. But anyway.

I just think there is a different feeling in places with long histories. This manor was built around 1768. Civil War soldiers were tended by Clara Barton on its lawn. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and others were frequent visitors. There is even a love story of the ghost of a young girl who haunts its grounds, because she was supposed to meet her lover and elope from there, but was intercepted and sent back to England to marry a "more suitable" beau.
I think the atmosphere somehow feels weightier or more substantial or something with the many layers of stories that have taken place there. I like being in places that have seen a lot of time pass. I like to see trees that have stood for hundreds of years. It is amazing to me.

Anyway - that's another self-timer pic of me (above) sitting on the steps at the back of the manor, looking over the river into Fredericksburg (below).

There wasn't even anyone else there, except for 2 guys with dogs who almost walked across the grass as I was taking this pic, and then they quickly went away. And I was glad. It was quiet and peaceful, just as I remembered and just as I needed it to be.

So it was really nice to be there again.

It had been about 13 yrs since I had last been in these parts of Virginia and been able to visit any of these places.
So anyway - I had a really great time seeing some of my own important places, and visiting with some important people to me. I have to also mention that I never once got stuck in traffic, contrary to my brother's firm belief that I would (haha). :) And I never got lost, amazingly (even getting back up to the airport without an exact idea of how to get there). And I even got to see the Washington DC LDS Temple lit up coming up around the beltway at night, which made me smile.
Zac then met me at the airport car rental place and we took the light rail back to hotel together(choosing to skip the scary metro stop and just walk further from the light rail stop instead). We got back about midnight so it had been quite a long day. But it was worth it. Absolutely worth it. :)


bonitinha said...

So so so beautiful!

Mom B. said...

I am so, so glad that you got to to back and visit some of your favorite places. Kind of made me homesick. And I really enjoyed spending time with the kids, really. It was a nice break for me too!!

Alyssa said...

OH KRISTEN!!!! heaven on earth! I am so gald you got to go back and BE there! I know I used to go there and chill out and always came away refreshed. There is a real feeling of sanctity there. Hmmm...I think I might be drooling thinking of being there too. i imagined my wedding reception there too...but, since they don't do weddings your suggestion of Belmont was perfect. You always knew the best places :) Of coarse there were so many...but, I am so glad I had and still do have a friend who appreciated them with the same depth I did. So happy that you made time to go!

Colleen said...

Gorgeous! And I miss fireflies.

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