Life has taken me down many paths, some of which I stayed on for far too long, and some of which I am still journeying. This photograph was taken on the moors in West Yorkshire near Howarth, where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. The road leads from Top Withens, the supposed inspiration for Heathcliff’s home in Wuthering Heights. I first visited this place over a decade ago, before Anna and I were married, before the kids, and before I had traveled down any truly difficult paths.
We were engaged in these hills, under this sky, and returning here after a decade since Anna’s grandfather died felt like coming home. I would be happy here in the countryside living a quiet rural life, walking the moors and communing with the sheep. West Yorkshire is so antithetical to Northeast Florida, in its weather, its topography, and even its residents. When I am in England, walking a mile to the store just seems appropriate. At home, we live about a mile from the store, and I have never once walked there. I can explain it. The country just brings out something in me.
I would follow this path as far as it led, catching another one until I reached the coast, where I would find another leading elsewhere and follow that one to the end. Anna has ties here, and I know that we will always return. I hope that it will not take me another nine years to find my way back to these paths, but perhaps then I will appreciate them even more than I appreciated them last year, when I appreciated them exponentially more than I did the first time I came upon them. Some not-so-small part of me remains in the heather and the ferns, on top of the moors, and in the sun-soaked valleys. One day I’ll return, but I won’t take this part of me home. It is where it is meant to be.