In two weeks exactly I'll be back home in Georgia for a week. I'm ready, I've missed my people something awful and I miss the affection I am accustomed to getting from all of them more than I ever considered I might. Here on the other side of the country I only have Damien to hug, hold, and kiss affectionately, except for the 1/2 of the day he's not with me and I'm learning to do without. I miss having people I love in my arms, looking into their beautiful faces, and smiling. The very idea of this brings tears to my eyes to be perfectly honest. Especially my babies. I don't know that I can get used to that bit.
I'm finding myself a bit nervous about actually being back in Georgia to tell the truth. I don't know how I'm going to feel BEING there now that it's not home anymore. When we finally finished packing up the loft and putting the last thing on the truck the afternoon before we began the drive here, I walked around that giant empty space that was the first place we ever made a home together and as I was walking out of the door for the last time it hit me that I didn't live there anymore. Not just there in that space, but in Columbus - in Georgia - in my beloved Southland.
I've been thinking a lot in recent days and weeks about how age affects things in such strange ways. For instance, the places I spent so much childhood time in in the northern part of Georgia don't even really exist anymore. Not only because they are places I literally can no longer visit, but because a lot of the people associated with my good memories no longer exist. Aunts, uncles, cousins, I've lost so many and even more are now grown and settled into lives that have nothing to do with me. It's just how things work out sometimes, there's no malice or ill will - we just didn't get the kind of time in our late adolescence that would have cemented us as more permanent fixtures. Anyway, they're all doing well and that makes me happy, so it's good.
I seem to have this strange yearning for a particular time in life before so many things got complicated and damaged. When Rob and Lynn were alive, when my Aunts Virginia and Kindness (her real name, and perfectly befitting a woman of her temperment) and of course my Papa Jack. I miss them all so much that there are times I have to lie down and just have a good cry until my head aches and my muscles stiffen and then it all passes, usually because I think of something silly or inane that one of them said. My memories of them are so deliberately crystallized into my memory that I can even remember the tone and cadence of their voices and the way they each felt when I would hug one of them, their smells, and the way we all collectively loved one another.
I remember Aunt Kindness' house and the way her kitchen always smelled of coffee, cigarette smoke, bananas, and the way old wooden houses smell - gas heaters in the wintertime, in the spring and summertime you could add cantaloupe and fresh tomatoes to that array. Creaky floorboards and the way you could feel it all rattle when the trains came by. Even the back alley on the other side of the yard had its own distinct earthen smell. The cut glass pitcher that almost always seemed to make orange juice taste better and the biscuits and gravy that could have been made by any of my aunts or uncles, because they were all my Grandmother's, and great care was taken to purposefully carry on her method of cooking - and though I never knew in person what an extraordinary woman I might have had in Annie Mae Timms, my Grandmother, I can make her biscuits and gravy from scratch, from memory, because it was decided I should know how. Sunflowers that grew along the tracks, blackberry brambles that no amount of care would ever spare us from, daytime skies filled with June bugs and an evening symphony of crickets, tiny burst flashing from fireflies - or lightning bugs as we called them.
I remember how my cousins smelled of dirt and grass and sweat after we had spent an entire summer day playing in the yard, cooling off by wading in the icy water of Silver Creek, completely unaware of how little time we would ultimately have together. I still cannot believe I've managed to outlive them and the reality of that brings me a pain I cannot even describe.
I've gotten way off track here I guess, but this is what my state of mind is right now. I just want the next 2 weeks to hurry by so I can refuel on some love and affection, because I miss it and I'm not the same without it. I hope to see as many of you as I can when I get back to Georgia - I hope you can feel me holding and loving you in my mind as I write these words.