One year ago tomorrow, Dallas and I arrived in Georgia with his truck packed full of our belongings, and other than a couple of short side trips (twice to Auburn and once just barely into South Carolina) I’ve been here ever since. It’s been an interesting year. Apparently I brought the wettest summer to this part of Georgia, as well as some of the coldest winter days people can remember. What can I say? It’s a gift. Other than a little good-natured ribbing, people blaming me for bringing Yankee weather to the South, I can say that people down here are pretty nice. Nobody’s blessed my heart or made fun of my Michigan accent to my face, which is just a bonus. One nice thing about being here, as opposed to some other parts of Georgia, is that I fit in just fine because there are a lot of people around here who are also not native to this area, thanks to the Air Force base. Occasionally people still ask where I’m from (especially when I’m at work, because the town I work in is a little further away from the base and all of the big-city amenities, so not as many military people live out there). It doesn’t bother me, but it’s nice to blend in most of the time. Standing out is not something I particularly enjoy.
It feels like I’ve (mostly) gotten used to the weather. (Then again, it’s supposed to hit 90 degrees tomorrow, so I may need to reevaluate this statement later.) It was incredibly nice to not have to shovel snow this winter. Instead it rained, which was pretty depressing when it happened three or four days in a row. It feels like there’s a much wider range of temperatures in any given day here than I remember at home, too: I can start out in a cardigan when I leave for work at 7 am, and wish I could wear shorts to work by 2 that afternoon. There have been a few days where the temperature has literally climbed 20 or 30 degrees between when I left for work and when I got home. If anything, living down here has made me a lot better about staying hydrated.
It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve been homesick, most recently when I came across a Pure Michigan radio ad for the city where most of my family lives the other night. I can admit that I did lay in bed and cry for a good five minutes, but it’s the first time in months that it’s happened. I’ve missed my family–it has now been just over a year since I’ve seen my parents, grandparents, and siblings, and more than that since I’ve seen aunts, uncles, and cousins. Before this, I’d never gone more than maybe four or five months without seeing these people. I come from a huge and very close-knit family, so being this far away from them has been difficult. Luckily Dallas and I will be heading up to Michigan late this summer so he can take his very last test (German language translation exam) before he’s admitted to doctoral candidacy (so exciting!) and we’ll get to see my family then.
And I won’t lie, sometimes when it’s hot and muggy and there are gnats swarming around my face, I miss cool Michigan evenings. I miss going to visit my grandparents and having what sometimes felt like half of my family dropping in to say hi because they heard I was around. I miss dipping my toes in Lake Huron and watching freighters pass by. I miss the Pigeon River Country. I miss rambling through Mill Pond Park on birding walks with Dallas, a pair of binoculars, and a camera. I miss tea lattes and scholarly conversations at Kaya, impromptu get-togethers in various graduate assistants’ offices all over Powers Hall, nights out at the Bird or the Cabin or Mountain Town. Twenty-five years of memories are wrapped up in the Great Lakes State, and I guess I kind of always expected to stay put up there. Michigan will always be home because it was the only place I called home for such a long time, but in these last couple of months, I’ve started to think things like “Georgia is home” instead of “I live in Georgia”. It’s a confusing shift, but still nice. Here’s to a couple more years, at least. Then we’ll have to see where our next adventure is going to take us.