A Wonderful Detour

Summary: A short story of an IRL encounter. Initially hastily tweeted on May 31, 2022.

On my long drive home westward from Virginia, I stopped for a perhaps foolishly long but absolutely fascinating detour in Charlottesville at, what I thought was a rare book store according to Google Maps, a residence-business of a man who curates and sells entire collections for libraries (and apparently buys and manages libraries too). It was off I-64 down some dirt road prefaced with a "Private Property - Do Not Trespass" sign. I reversed but then decided to ring the number upon which this man answered, slightly confused at the situation having never a random guest ask to check out the place, invited me despite "the place is quite messy and I wouldn't normally do this" and gave me specific directions.

The energy of the place felt powerful and I discovered via stone engraving that it was the former property of Thomas Jefferson, lined with magnificent trees surely as old as TJ himself. The man was warm & kind, telling me of his vocation and showing me around the mansion. The conversation was delightful and he allowed me to peruse his many bookshelves, while two young men assisted him in packing boxes for yet another library collection. After scanning shelf after shelf of books ranging from culinary to botany to history and philosophy, I randomly selected one and asked to read for a short while on the sprawling lawn. I was just vibing, in no rush to journey home.

The selection was Maxims by La Rochefoucauld. I heard of the book but never read it, and only managed to get through a third of it in this session. Initially sitting underneath the grandest tree (perhaps planted by TJ himself?!), I was incessantly interrupted by two loving, attention-seeking Black Labradors and began walking around the complex whilst both reading and throwing the frisbee they fetched. The book also had a yellowed catalog-newspaper clipping from pre-WW2 which detailed the summary and price of multiple books (most ranging from $2 to $4). I sadly did not take a picture of it but took a few others.

Unfortunately, while I had the thought to delay my journey another day and sojourn in the city, I hurried along, returning the book and giving thanks for such a wonderful spontaneous encounter. He, from earlier in the episode, handed me a list of landmarks, antique stores and a restaurant. I decided to delay my departure from C-ville another hour and a half to enjoy the tasteful & sightful delights of ancient Mitchie Tavern and Monticello.

A most wonderful, magical detour. While I was pressed to return home from a 10-day vacation to work, I allowed myself to listen to my wanderlust spirit and pay attention to synchronistic signs that quite often yield miracles. I have been breaking free from destination fixation, just living presently as if each day is my last. I want my life journey to be fun and spontaneous and full of happiness; it is these very moments that make me feel alive.

Here's four of a handful of pictures I took

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