I was walking in the rain down King Street this morning and I spotted this plaque on the outside of the Hotel Monaco: “The Marshall House stood upon this site, and within the building on the early morning of May 26, 1861 James W. Jackson was killed by federal soldiers while defending his property and personal rights, as stated in the verdict of the coroners jury. He was the first martyr to the cause of Southern Independence. The Justice of History does not permit his Name to be Forgotten. Not in the excitement of battle, but coolly, and for a great principle, he laid down his life, an example to all, in defence of his home and the sacred soil of his native state Virginia. (erected by the sons and daughters of Confederate soldiers)”
I’m going to take this as a sign -- literal and figurative -- that this Yankee has been living in the Commonwealth for too long. We all know that the “property” Jackson was defending was his slaves and that the soil of Virginia is no more sacred than the soil of New York, Maryland, or even D.C.
When we fly out at the crack of dawn on Saturday, with our six suitcases, a cat in a carrier, two backup carriers (too complicated to explain now), our single-entry three-month visas (also too complicated), and a year’s worth of reading loaded up on our Kindles and iPad, we’ll have been living in hotels for exactly two months. And that is about 60 days too long. Virginia has been very welcoming to us, and I’ve grown quite attached to the statue of the southern soldier facing south at the intersection of Washington and Prince streets, but it’s time.
The Christmas decorations are starting to go up in the antiques stores in Old Town. The heels on my shoes are worn out from all the trekking I’ve done on the cobblestoned streets of this city. I’ve been to a funeral, a fiftieth-anniversary party, a wedding, and more events centered on eating than I can count. I have a favorite dryer in the hotel laundry room.
Meanwhile, Joanna is settled in Beijing and inviting her newfound friends over to our apartment. She’s promised them all latkes at Hannukah and probably turkey at Thanksgiving. I know I’ve promised home-made ravioli to some folks. I don’t see a way to squeeze in any more social events here. It’s time to go.