The smell of sweet maple syrup brushes my nostrils. A molasses-like sip of coffee touches my lips. I am staring out from my screened-in porch at a towering Live Oak who’s Spanish moss drapes like a spontaneous work of modern art.
In the background, Ray Charles is banging on the piano. Cardinals flirt with the introduction to spring.”Y’all” twangs off the tongues of people below me.
And I am home, mostly. Back in the south, near nature and the people I love.
Spot right next to my new apartment 🙂
A couple of years ago, my view couldn’t have been more different. And while I miss D.C. in many ways, there are things that validated the choices that led me here, as well as the choices I made for my future. But, there are also experiences and emotions that have validated my choice to live there.
When I lived in D.C., a step onto my balcony would amplify the sound of sirens. With a wipe of my finger, I could remove the soot that settled on my plants from the cars below. My view across the street was a busy hospital. My nostrils flared at the smell of car exhaust and rubber.
It all started with a brochure that my sister’s friend Judy gave me years ago: the Trans-Wales Trail. A horseback riding trek that would make any Tolkien fangirl weak at the knees. Open spaces. Dragon’s land. Riding a noble beast across a country. We discussed our ideas and goals of doing it one summer. Why would we not do it?
I was in high school with little money and poor decision-making skills. In order to not get my hopes up, my incredulous self set the brochure and idea aside, but I was forever unable to escape the dream of riding a horse through a limitless landscape.
Years later, here I am. Writing tid-bits on trains headed to my adventure and present reflections at a table in my sunroom. A strange form of time travel connecting past and present. I didn’t really explain what this adventure was all about in the first place, and it would be a lie to say it was largely born as a journey of self-exploration, (though it certainly became one). It was to fulfill that dream instilled within me by a brochure. To achieve what my imagination had been incessantly clawing at for years.
Just weeks after moving into a house for the first time, we had to take down a massive Sweet Gum tree that stoically stood in our front yard. It’s large branches stretched across the front of the house, providing shade and privacy. While previously, my sense of appreciation for the forest was tied beauty and ecosystem support, it was now tied to utility: cooling the house in the summer heat, shading the office, creating a sense of seclusion from the streets.
I blame my parents for my absurd curiosity and wonderment about the world.
What horrible things to instill upon a child.
Both of them flew for Delta… my dad a pilot and my mom a flight attendant. Their conversations of love and life were like something out of the movies. They met in an airport in Miami and among tales of convertibles catching fire and almost ingesting engagement rings in champagne they embraced each other and their exploration of culture. I remember day dreaming to my dad’s stories—seeing the Northern Lights from the cockpit of a 747, watching the sunrise over the equator, base jumping in South America, meeting amazing individuals who all had their own stories to tell. He described these seemingly esoteric moments in a way that made me feel like I was there, floating in the sky. With his words I could close my eyes and feel like a part of everything.