Resident Story Tells of Move from Arizona to Kendal at Lexington "Leap, and the net will appear"

Southern Exposure, Part One (Originally Published in the December 2014 Kendal Resident Newsletter)

What is it like? says Jo McMurtry, the ever-curious resident newsletter editor. What is it like to come here, where so many people have connections to the South and to Virginia and to Lexington, and where — for me — there was not one familiar face and everything, everything was new?

The Arizona desert was my home for more than fifty years. Friends there thought I had lost my mind. Why leave our towering purple mountains, why leave laughter and mariachi music on a starry night and a merciless, baking summer sun that tells me, “You’re a desert rat, amigo”; why leave frisky lizards in my garden and coyotes howling at the moon? Why leave much-loved grandchildren?

Leap, say followers of Zen. Leap, and the net will appear — as indeed it did. It appeared in the warm welcome I felt from the day I arrived; it appears now in traces of Southern culture and history wherever I go, as I walk the same streets as Stonewall Jackson or Robert E. Lee, or hear on the lips of even quite small children, “yes, ma’am!” and “yes, sir!” The net appears when I hear family stories going back generations and when I keep finding books upon books I’ll never live long enough to read. I think: what if I had not come here and found these people and this place? My life would have been the poorer for it.

I stroll downtown and pass a group of teenage girls — a melange of ponytails, pretty faces, shorts, and T-shirts — all intent on stopping motorists at the intersection. They are shouting, singing, laughing, totally focused on their fundraiser but not so much that one doesn’t quickly step aside to let me pass. “Have a nice day, ma’am!” Again, Ma’am and Sir from the smallest tyke on up: I begin to think there’s a lot to like about being here.

Two years later I am finally brave enough to navigate alone the winding roads of Rockbridge County and beyond. I have welcomed curious friends and family who come to Lexington wondering whatever possessed me to roam so far from home, and who later leave, wondering how they can find a way to come here themselves. It’s true. Grandchildren in Tucson are plotting a future that might bring them to Virginia to live.

I say to Jo, what good luck for me to be in this place with these people. I must have done something right for this to happen.

— Marjorie Sherrill (Current Resident)