Nineteen months ago, I packed up all of my belongings, hugged my friends goodbye, and planted myself in a grungy studio apartment in the middle of a city 130 miles away. A city where the kids rolled their jeans up way past their ankles, rode their bikes without holding the handlebars, and paid eight dollars for gourmet cookies. I told myself I wanted to do it for a year; for one whole year, I wanted to see life in a different city. To study new things, meet new people, and to be a different person. To press pause and see the world spin from a different angle. But only for a year. After that, I would make an ultimatum—to stay or to return home.

For one whole year, I explored the streets of Richmond, Virginia—reflecting on myself as a Christian, an artist, a writer, a student, a brother, and a friend. I learned how to shoot in manual mode with my camera and how the world of mass communications works. I delved into the world of craft beer with the help of some great new friends and spent many days hanging out at the James River. Visits back here in Danville consisted of driving back to Pelham to crash on my best friend’s couch and spending the whole weekend grabbing coffee while catching up with friends.

I had been keeping up with the renovation projects going on in Danville and the River District — news of restaurant openings and news of businesses coming to town. I thought about the mornings spent running on the Riverwalk with my buddy Ken and Saturday mornings spent working at the Y. By this point, I was about halfway through my ‘great adventure’ and began thinking about where to lay my grounds.

By late autumn, the decision had been made—I was returning home. I had received a job offer to work for a great company and get involved with some awesome opportunities to make Danville a better place. It was bittersweet to see the end of my somewhat year abroad, but I was excited for the journey back home—to see old friends, follow my passions, and give back to the small college town that had selflessly raised me.

Choosing to come back to Danville has been undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Although Richmond will always be a second home to me, I am glad I chose to place my roots here. There’s something about the familiarity of visiting your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant or knowing that your friends are never more than fifteen minutes away, but most importantly it’s comforting to know that whether you choose to stay or return, Danville will always be home.

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