La La How The Life Goes On

Just An Old Sweet Song

Posted on: December 24, 2011

We will soon be taking the girls to visit dear friends from our former life in Georgia. It was 12 long years ago that we left to come back North, and only now are we returning. I’m so thrilled that all of our kids will finally meet, so ready to be in their company again, and yet completely conflicted about what Georgia conjures up in me.

When I think of Atlanta and Athens I feel the sweet, naive joy of being a 26 year old newlywed, the future all just what my mum would call a twinkle in my eye. I remember the smug satisfaction of living in such a cool college town with such a cool scene (oh wow, Michael Stipe looks even weirder and more disheveled in person). I remember the soft pleasant drawls–and then the auditorily jarring experience of flying home and being thrust once again into the lovable yet unforgiving Boston accent: “you have a nice flight, baby” vs. “Tommy ya queeah, the limos ah downstaiahs.” I recall in soft focus all the little places that had big meaning. Like The Mellow Mushroom pizza over which Baby Daddy proposed, even though I had been a complete and utter bitch to him the entire day for making me sweat at a Braves game (where, it turned out, his dad passed the ring to him), and for acting weird (not his usual mellow self) all day. I was, like, fine, fucker. Let’s eat the damn pizza, call it a night and maybe tomorrow you will not be ordering me to go places I don’t want to go. Or…maybe I’ll be your future wife! Aren’t you lucky!

I recall meeting my amazing friend Roberto after having driven 90 minutes home from work in Atlanta in a black mood. I was so not psyched that guests (including People I Don’t Know) will be in my house when I finally slog my ass home. But there was Bob. Funniest, wittiest, sharpest guy in the entire American South, evident within 40 seconds. Loved him instantly, love him always. I met the Notorious B.O.B through another of the babydaddy’s friends, a guy we will call Matty. I gave Matty some serious stink eye for a good few weeks because…and I know this is rich coming from me now…his stories all seemed made-up. He was shot by a bb gun while riding his bike. But that was only after he had been hit by a drunk driver. Which may or may not have been before something happened involving someone famous. I was like, “I call bullshit on this guy” and lobbied for his dismissal. But BBDD was having none of it. It was his first–and only–Bros Before Hos throwdown of our lives, and so I relented. Thank God. Or I’d have missed the fabulousness of knowing Matty, his whole extended family, and now his wife and baby, all of whom laughingly corroborated his stories when I finally confessed to my previous suspicions.

So, I guess what I love about Georgia is that I was young and free and a bitch. :). Although, karma was simultaneously making me her bitch, because while Athens was freeing my inner oblivious judgmental vegetarian with an Inside The Beltway chip on my shoulder, it was also setting the stage for every single thing–good and bad–that would follow. Athens is where it became clear that something was amiss. I was tired, pale and cold. I was certain I had Epstein-Barr, and much of my memories of daily life in Georgia are a blur of fatigue and dissatisfaction. I had a Masters Degree and a profession in politics I’d left behind in DC, all of which qualified me in Athens for answering the phones at the country club. Then I finally got a marketing job that turned out to be less marketing and more serving coffee and Danish to conventioneers, the only upside of which at the time was that I did the backstage food for Counting Crows while Adam Duritz was dating Jennifer Aniston, blah blah. It seemed cool at the time. Which helped me not be too bitter that the jobs for “political fundraisers” were all volunteer and all filled by wealthy ladies with the Southern helmet hair that another GA friend JimK called, “sprayin’ for Jesus.” I hated that job with a passion I usually reserved for rapists and pedophiles. But as one sick day turned into another, and a random kook at the local hospital mistakenly diagnosed me with leukemia OVER THE PHONE, the worst boss I have ever had at the worst job I have ever had referred me to her mom’s oncologist, who sent me to Emory, who diagnosed me with Aplastic Anemia and set me on the road to where I am today. So to say that my memories of Georgia are bittersweet is to say only the very least that can be said.

But what CAN be said to my girls about my memories of Georgia? That predestined love and friendship bloom in unlikely places, sometimes in spite of ourselves. That every situation, even the least comfortable or fun, has something to teach us. That help often comes in unexpected packages.

That sometimes you really can trace the enormous arc of The Rest Of Your Life to one little spot on a map.


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