My apartment has that funny smell – the smell of cardboard. The faint smell of a tree from long ago, pressed and compressed into brown paper, corrugated and glued to hold two years of memories. A lifetime of belongings. The walls are blank, waiting to be dressed with someone else’s decorations.
They say home is where you hang your hat, and I’ve left mine in Knoxville. It’s still in my Aunt’s kitchen, waiting for me to walk by and wear it. I will pack my jeans and boots, my books and whatever else will fit in my city car, and drive through the mountains to a new life that seems too good to imagine.
They call me crazy for letting it all go: for leaving a city I have memorized and living, jobless, on land that produces a garden only if I decide to plant it. Where chickens leave eggs and take bags of feed, where cats and dogs are waiting to make a mess after you clean one. Instead of slipping out to brick streets and streetlights, I will find lightning bugs and dreaming horses. Instead of one room with a galley kitchen, I get a whole kitchen with muddy boots and paws, a sink of well water and dishes, and soup beans on the stove.
It’s hard to imagine me leaving here and missing it. It’s hard to dream about anything other than the farm – my room with the view of the sun rising over the mountains, a field full of horses and a whole day to explore. I will swim in the river that my Grandfather swam in, till the fields he gazed at with a shaded hand over his eyes.
But I will miss it. I like who I have become here – a bit of tumbleweed snagged on the vines that creep up ancient walls. The sound of birds and traffic passing, of my bike chain humming as I coast home from work or the river or from gazing at the cathedral. Savannah has been good to me, better than she should have been, and I look forward to visiting again. I will return with orange clay under my nails and tanned arms. To watch the town breathe as an observer, no longer a resident. A part of me will always belong there, a small part that learned to live alone, to find company when I needed it, and to escape when I did not. There is a strange peace that comes with solitude, and whenever I see these brick streets lined with ancient oaks, I know that feeling will return.