Monday, February 21, 2011

there and back again

The weather is warming up, and I`m already thinking about Georgia.  In a little over a month, I`ll be back.

I`ve tried not to think about it.  One of my goals in life has always been to be away from Georgia as much as possible.  And now that I`ve been away for a full year, I know that I can go back and not let it bring me down.

Something about the air in Georgia makes me feel suffocated and hopeless.  I will not let that happen to me this time.  I refuse to let another year of my life feel wasted or like I`m just waiting--Georgia has always been my purgatory.  At its worst, it was my hell.  But I won`t let it be that way any more.

Separating myself from my home state has been one of the best decisions of my life.  I can see it from an outsider`s perspective, and I realize that there is culture there.  The same way that Americans don`t realize they have an accent, I never really thought of my home state as having "culture."  At least not  in an exotic, interesting sense.  Being a white American, I feel neutral and generic.  I am a template on which other cultures can stamp themselves and shape me.  But now I realize that I have already been shaped.  Georgia has made me who I am today, the reason that I can speak with a twang so easily. The reason that I love sunshine and warmth and people who say cuss words in every sentence.

It is boiled peanuts and watermelon and Cool Whip.  It is Tybee Island and cookouts and smuggling fireworks from South Carolina.  It is moonshine and Baptists and cotton fields.  It isn`t always pretty, but it is my culture.

I will spend the next year of my life in Georgia, sort of in transit.  I know that it is a temporary thing.  I will work on getting into grad school, but that will not be all that I do.  I have decided to make this next year as productive and joyous as it can be.  I will run a half-marathon.  I will volunteer.  I will hopefully work a job that doesn`t suck (but I`m more than willing to work a shitty job).  I will write and conduct interviews and research for my memoir.  I will see cousins and aunts that I haven`t seen in years.  I will write and write and write and submit my stories for publication. 

I will be in Georgia, and I will live. I`m done with waiting.

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