Thursday, October 27, 2011

Finding Contentment

My entire week built up to this moment: packed bags and a heart ready for a vacation, even this very small vacation granted to us.

"At the risk of sounding too offensive, this place is a shit-hole."

The sentence left my lips before I even realized its consequences—my friend was not ready for my bold statement. I could have prepared her better, I suppose, but she was the one who questioned my need to go back home. Unfortunately, what I said is the truth--this town's worth only stretches so far. I needed home more than ever after having said my piece, if not for time away from an unruly campus, I needed it as an escape from this awkward situation we both created out of a relatively innocent conversation.

I was home three hours later. Home, in my town, where the air is crisper. My hometown, placed nearly half-an-hour from Atlanta, has everything I could ever need, but more importantly, my home is my stable ground. The people here are well-acquainted with the to-dos and courtesies of a bigger city. We were a small town once, and even then we were more Mayberry than three hours south. Despite the convenience of a university campus lying in the middle of the small town, the ignorance there is in abundance—hardly a line is drawn between "hick" and "southerner."

I have always lived by the rule that happiness can be found anywhere. I have found the people who contribute to my happiness, but the town, overall, is not a pleasant place to live. Happiness, quite simply, is more attainable at home.

"Well, it is your hometown, I'd expect you to like it more," my friend said, attempting to sound understanding.

If only falling in love with a town was as easy as she assumes.

"This isn't egocentrism. If I could choose anywhere to live, I wouldn't even choose this state!"

She would not believe me, but for four days I was far enough away not to care. What I said was my truth, and she is more than willing to live her life loving a town I hate. Only having lived in this town, she will never understand what I mean when I say one has to live somewhere to truly understand the people and the place. Visiting is not enough.

The first person I saw while home was my best friend Melody, and while swapping stories of our motivation to be home, we found common ground.

"There's something about this place--I don't know what, I can't explain it--but it makes me feel calmer and happier," I said.
"I understand what you mean. I feel the exact same way whenever I come home," Melody said--finally someone who understands.

I wanted nothing more than to take snapshots of everything while driving through town--document the town's beauty, the people laughing. And in between the laughter and familiarity, I spent my time staring at the hands on the clock, wishing I could make them tick slower. If only I were a Roald Dahl character.

Coming back was a struggle; I knew exactly what was waiting for me at the end of the trip--familiarity is refreshing, routine is monotonous. Without a few friends and my beloved, I would have no reason to return at all. Georgia has colleges in at least every other town, but in some weird way, in this miserable town in which I setup camp, I found the same comfort one can find in a home. I put my bags down on the floor and looked around the empty dorm room. Some part of me, through all of the complaints and eagerness to be home, missed it.

This place may not be perfect, but it is a home away from home. I suppose that is why my friend was offended by my confession—I did not pause to remind her she keeps me grounded, as well.

Now, if we could just do something about this humidity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Cold

Two steps out of the door, and the humidity hits me. The first to absorb its malevolence was my hair—typical. I wanted to run inside, shower again, and come out with an air-conditioned HAZMAT suit.

“You asked for rain,” I said, with a grimace to my roommate.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” she said, the guilt suffocating her.

Across seas, men and women are reveling in the colder weather; I long to feel the appropriately-placed chill. I want nothing more than to see my breath reflected in the crisp air, to bundle in a warm jacket, to have a reason to drink hot cocoa—with marshmallows, always with marshmallows. I miss the long days of winter.

I want to feel the depth of cold trickle down my spine, the cold air clear my sinuses, and the warmth of a fireplace. Yet, with the season drawing closer, winter is just a pipe dream the longer I remain here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

No Booze, But All the Liberation

Permanently etched, permanently scarred on my shoulder is a symbol. In language, a symbol does not have to relate to anything in particular or even be verbally expressed to be a symbol. This symbol, most common to those astute to the late-eighties and early-nineties world of gaming, stands for more than an easily abducted princess in pink. On the other side of town is someone with a certain overall-ed hero permanently placed on his forearm. It was the perfect idea.

I imagined Saturday quite differently: a drink in hand, a moment of glee and then the dive into year twenty-one. Instead, there were no drinks, but not without offer. I have gone 21 years without a drink and I did not care to have one now. There was no need for a depressant like wine--I was having the time of my life. No need for beer--the mere idea makes me cringe a bit. No need for anything. I had everything I needed right across the table from me, scarfing down on some "spasagna."

The ribs were tender and just what I needed to kick off the celebrations. I moved, nauseously out of the booth and into the truck, having eaten too much, and straight to the tattoo parlor where the artist stood waiting for us, where we said we would be.

"Are you ready?"
"As ready as I ever will be."

Tears formed in my eyes. My nerves, again.

The needle hit my skin and an hour later it was finished. Just like that. The process was easier than I thought it would be. It is a birthday gift I will cherish, will always be there, and will always be with him. Because I am his princess, and he is the hero that saves me, everyday, from myself.

Growing up, I scared myself out of every great idea I ever had. With him, I am one step closer to overcoming my nerves and doing whatever I want, for once. How liberating.