See, I had plans to write about the Justin Townes Earle concert tonight, and the amazing dinner we had beforehand. Then I got home, logged onto Facebook, and found myself tagged in this bittersweet good-bye letter by one of my dearest friends.
I remember being seventeen and fearless, pulling up to the new apartment with my Mom. We used a dented shoebox as a makeshift coffee table, and slept on the floor for two weeks while the moving truck made the slow crawl from Philadelphia to Atlanta. I watched a ‘1776’ DVD every. single. day. while waiting for the cable to be installed. I lived out of a suitcase. My hair was highlighted blonde, fresh from prom. I had an LG Shine cell phone, pre-3G. I made it all work, miles away from home, without a map. That “do-what-you’ve-gotta-do” hustle is still there, more than ever.
I remember being wide-eyed and hungry for opportunity, even when all I had was an Internet connection and a few bare walls. Thank you, Oglethorpe, for getting me started. Thank you, Emory, for making the dream come true. I got what I came here for. It’s a beautiful feeling.
I remember how the air felt riding down Peachtree Road for the first time, the taste of sweet orange sauce that became my comfort food favorite at Tin Drum, how a Friday night show at Eddie’s Attic was the best outing there was — besides doing the Braves trademark “chop” with thousands of Atlanta’s best at Turner Field, or causing a hootenanny at a roadside Waffle House. I remember how I fell for a beautiful plantation house called Barrington Hall one summer night, at an outdoor Shakespeare play. I remember the ache in my muscles after carrying countless duffle bags into four different dorms over the years, and, just how good it felt to take in the Georgia sunset while hopping off the Cliff shuttles after an evening of Cox Hall studying. The most gorgeous golden hour around, I do declare.
I remember meeting Grace at an Apple store, my very first friend in Atlanta. Followed by Rebecca, Laura, Dallas, Erin, Lydia, and all the rest. Thank you for being beautiful women and sweet friends. Thank you for the Thanksgiving sleepovers and the Nada Surf singalongs. Thank you all for being my first rays of sunshine in this new land.
What happens when we grow out of place? When we move as part of a natural rhythm?
I firmly believe that we never really leave a place. You may take your things, but you most definitely leave you, in the most literal sense. Kind of like how every house smells a little different when you’re first invited inside (is that Indian food?), there’s a way that we work ourselves into the walls that becomes unmistakably us. Tiny wine stains on the carpet, smudges on the mirrors, stray hair bands. Your lint balls crowd the laundry room floor; your old hangers line the closet walls. You can always go back. That place will always be yours, for the sheer fact that you called it home once, no matter how long ago.
Because your bare feet walked those hardwood floors.
Because that land was your land once upon a time.
I’m moving to Washington, D.C. this fall, a dream I’ve incubated and nurtured for the past year through plenty of hard work, uphill battles, and sweet victories. I told the city I’d be back in 365 days. I’ll be there exactly then, to the day.
There will be new hardwood floors I get to call my own.
A suitcase that I live out of for a few weeks.
The feel of ridges and curves on a thick set of keys.
Just like I’m always good on my word, I’ll be back to Atlanta sooner than you think.
Thank you for everything. ♥
My dear Atlanta friend is flying the coop into the next phase of life. She’s going to Georgetown, to make the same impact in DC as she made here in Atlanta, and while she’s going to kick butt and take names, I’m going to miss her. We met at college, on the Monday afternoon newspaper meetings, she, the News editor, me, the Features editor. Somehow Facebook picture comments became text messages and chats, which turned into coffee dates which became wondrous Atlanta adventures. She is my Atlanta soul mate, and I can’t imagine my city without her.
Alright, girlfriend. You’re going to do great things, and I can’t wait to see them; I’m also coming to visit you, so get ready.
Here’s to something new, sister.