One year ago (plus a few days, because I never get these things up on time), I was rushing to pack boxes, sweep floors, clear a truckload of leftover fast-food condiments out of the fridge, and say goodbye to a shady little house on a green hill in the mountains that had been part of my life for two years. Eventually, I sent Hannah off to my new apartment with the boxes, and ran around frazzled for hours, trying to finish cleaning the house. My cell service was disconnected; this was during my newspaper days and I had absolutely no money.

When I finally showed up in Hudson, I found my apartment almost completely unpacked. So instead of lifting plates and shower curtains and books out of boxes, I sat across the table from Hannah at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant, picking at bean chimichangas and feeling like the world had shifted on its axis.

I’m a drama queen, I know. I have been since I was born. But I don’t know how to describe it any other way. I’d been working in Caldwell County for months and I was only an hour away and it was all very uncalled for, but I missed Boone so much, for weeks, that I felt numb all over. My heart hurt. I wasn’t home.

I don’t really know why I love Boone so much. It is the most perfect town, and that’s part of it. It gives me this feeling sometimes that there’s only one place on earth, and all the effort of creation only had to be put into that one place, an invisible hand sweeping lush mountains and charmingly crumbled buildings into being.

But I think it’s a result of how I felt there, too — how much my soul stretched. It’s the place where God and faith became real to me, something more than just lines on a page and the smell of my childhood church, the smell of hymnal pages. It was good for me to get out and do something terrifying, to seek a fresh start and really invest in it, failures and all.  I think when I remember those first sweet years in Boone, I’m really remembering that.

I don’t know if I’ll ever want to live in Boone again, even though I miss it — in so many little ways — every day. Because even though I love the place itself, what I’m missing and remembering and wanting most is a time.

But still — a year. I can’t believe it’s been a year.