I grew up in the hot, steamy suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, the land of bare feet, humid air, and sweet tea.
For most of my life, I dreamed of leaving it.
I think my first aspirations to get out of Georgia were born when I was thirteen. I wanted to go to Oxford in England and be a lawyer — that was pretty much as far as I got. As I got older, though, that childish fancy turned into a serious dedication to get the hell out of the South. By the time I was fifteen, I had full-fledged plans to move to Chicago. Four out of the six schools I applied to were in Chicago, and, so help me, I was gonna go.
My parents weren’t too happy about this plan. Most notably, my mother said that I couldn’t handle the transition. Moving to a new place is scary, she said, and I wouldn’t be able to cope.
I’m beginning to think she was right.
I moved from Atlanta to Philadelphia this year, and it’s been a rough transition. I left my fiancée in Atlanta. All of the friendships I built during my time in college are now distant shades, present only on Facebook and GChat. No matter how many Skype dates I have, I can’t move beyond the fact that when I leave work I walk through a city where no one gives a shit about me. I come home to an apartment echoing with emptiness.
It’s scary. I am afraid in a way that I haven’t been in a long time. I fear that my life here in Philly will always be this way, and that no matter what I do I won’t be able to build the kind of life I had in Atlanta. But life is full of transitions, and Lyzi’s post gave me some great food for thought:
The fact is, we are all terrible at imagining how we will feel in the future. We exaggerate how much the future will be like the present. We underestimate the power of temperament to gradually pull us up from the lowest lows. And if our capacities for imagining the future are bad in normal times, they are horrible in moments of stress and suffering.
I feel like I should read this at the beginning and end of every day, to remind myself of it. The fact of the matter is that I will feel better, that I will make friends, that I will begin to feel familiar and at home in Philadelphia. It’s just a matter of time.
But, as my friend Darcy says: Sadness, even if it’s temporary sadness, still sucks. I just need to accept it — and overcome it.
My mother was right to tell me that I wasn’t prepared for what moving across the country would entail. It’s so much scarier than I imagined. But she was wrong to tell me that I couldn’t cope or that I wouldn’t make it.
After all, I’m still here, aren’t I?