Last week I had a speaking engagement and book signing at Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, VA, and it was a great campus visit! Last year, some of the graduate students in the counseling program read Purge: Rehab Diaries for one of their classes, and decided they would invite me to speak as part of their eating disorder awareness week. I spoke about the complexity of eating disorders, and how they’re about more than just food as well as co-morbidities, the recovery process, and how to help someone with an eating disorder. The audience was a mix of undergraduates, grad students, faculty, and staff from Lynchburg College, and they asked lots of good questions, and I enjoyed talking with people afterwards, and as I signed books.
While I was only in Lynchburg for roughly twenty-four hours, I had a wonderful time. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and I was definitely the recipient of Southern hospitality! When I arrived at Lynchburg Regional Airport, R, a grad student was waiting for me, and she gave me a tour of Lynchburg, which is a pretty little town at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then she took me to my hotel, the Craddock Terry, which was originally a shoe factory in the 1800s. If you’re ever in Lynchburg, I can’t recommend this place enough: http://www.craddockterryhotel.com. They even have a hotel dog that you can take on walks! Here are a couple pictures of my room:
In the morning, they put your breakfast in a little wooden box outside your door. My breakfast consisted of a croissant, brie, fresh fruit, yogurt, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and coffee from the Keurig in my room.
Thursday night, I had dinner at Waterstone Pizza, and it was delicious. I had a BLT with fresh mozzarella, and lemon berry mascarpone cake, in addition to two sweet teas. I love sweet tea, so anytime I head to the South, I always make a point of ordering one (or five). If you’re ever in Lynchburg, this place is great (and affordable): http://www.waterstonepizza.com.
Friday morning Dr. P picked me up and we headed to campus. It was a beautiful day, in the mid-40s, and after living in a white-on-white landscape in Minnesota for the past few months, it was so nice to see grass and (non-snow-covered) trees again. Lynchburg College has a beautiful campus, and I thought the chapel was especially pretty. Before I gave my talk, I met many members of the graduate student counseling organization, C.O.P.E., that helped bring me to campus. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and I wasn’t nervous at all. The talk went well, and afterwards, I was presented with a C.O.P.E. t-shirt, which I will definitely wear. I always try and get a t-shirt or mug, or something like that as a souvenir whenever I speak somewhere, so I love that they gave me a C.O.P.E. t-shirt! Afterwards, I signed books and talked with members of the Lynchburg College community and C.O.P.E. Here are a few pictures:
After the book signing, we headed to lunch at a place called Neighbors, where I had more sweet tea and crab cakes. I love crab cakes, but I often question the freshness of the crab cakes I can get in Minnesota, so I usually only order them when I’m near the East Coast. These crab cakes were excellent. I would recommend this restaurant as well: http://www.theneighborsplace.com. At lunch I had the opportunity to talk more with the C.O.P.E. members as well as some of the counseling faculty. Afterwards, Dr. P. showed me more of Lynchburg before dropping me off at the airport. Lynchburg Regional Airport has just one gate, but while you wait for the security line to open, you can sit in a rocking chair and look at the Blue Ridge Mountains.
On my way home, I had a long layover in Charlotte, NC, and my cousin J came to the airport and we drank Starbucks and talked. I hadn’t seen J for about two years, and it was really good to see her, and I’m happy our airport cousin meet-up worked out.
I had four flights total last week (MSP–>CLT–>LYH and then reversed for the trip back), and on each flight, people asked me why I was headed to Lynchburg, and whenever I told them, they told me about a loved one, friend, or coworker who was struggling with an eating disorder. I know this is a small sample size, but I think it’s telling that on each flight I encountered someone whose life had been touched, even indirectly, by an eating disorder. This is why it’s important that we keep the conversation going, and keep talking about eating disorders.