So, I never truly understood why people want to leave rural places…until our recent Labor Day trip to Bath County. I don’t think I fully understood the difference between being in the mountains and being by the mountains. Most of my time in the mountains of Virginia has been spent in the gently rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains — never more than a five minute drive from the outer suburbs — or in the Shenandoah or Page Valleys, two narrow valleys framed by modest peaks and separated by Shenandoah National Park. But actually being in the mountains — in small, not necessarily picturesque hollows — felt a little claustrophobic to me. I am sorry if anyone from Bath County is reading this and I’m insulting your county (though considering the population is only about 4,000, this is very unlikely) but I think I now understand why why some rural places are hemorrhaging population. Valleys framed by mountains feel expansive and full of possibilities to me; hollows, on the other hand, make me feel like I’ve been trapped in an elevator for days on end. I felt disoriented and weighed down. I have no immediate plans to return to Bath County any time soon. I am sorry, Bath County.