It’s been a year now since I left Boston and headed south. All week I’ve been playing the “what I was doing at this time last year” game–remembering the going-away party at Katie and Jeremiah’s house, my last coffee night with Katie and Abigail, dinner in the North End and cannoli with Kate, Sarah, Kerry, Lauren and Mom on my last night in town, cleaning my condo for the last time with the help of Lauren, Sarah and Matt, my final banana-stuffed French toast at Zaftigs before hitting the road. Although, if I’m being honest, I’ve been playing that game most of the summer, remembering movie nights, trips to the beach, the 4th of July, ice cream trips, church small group, conversations–the moments that I soaked up and savored last year.
And I did a lot of that last summer, the soaking and the savoring. Because I didn’t want to leave. In March (of 2012), when I decided for sure that I was coming to Emory, I initially felt ready to leave. It was, after all, the dragging end of a long New England winter, and by March pretty much everyone in New England is ready to be somewhere else. But as the summer months came along and I started dealing with the details of uprooting and moving away, I found myself wishing desperately that I didn’t have to go. I had been so happy in Boston. I loved my life there, and I was blessed with amazing friendships.
Atlanta, on the other hand, felt like a big empty space for me. I didn’t know anyone there, and I didn’t even know anything about the city. That made leaving even harder and set up what turned out to be probably the hardest year I’ve had. I was often lonely and sad. I missed Boston, and I missed Texas, and I missed my friends and family. I never regretted my decision to come here, but it was hard and lengthy transition.
And although I’m finally beginning to feel settled in here, mostly, I still miss my life in Boston. Last week I got to go back for a short visit and for my friend Kate’s wedding. And it was wonderful. I ate at some of my favorite places, I spent lots of quality time with some of my favorite people, I enjoyed the phenomenal hospitality of Katie and Jeremiah, I attended a beautiful wedding, and I spent some time just enjoying the city. My first day there, I just wandered around visiting some of my favorite places, including my condo and the reservoir where Spur and I would go for walks. I ended up walking all the way from Fenway to Boston Common, and I felt almost like I was chasing an echo of my life in Boston, or a ghost of it. It still felt so real to me, in some ways more real than my life here. As if I could have just slipped back into it like one slips on a pair of shoes. It still felt so comfortable, getting around, knowing where to go, feeling totally at ease with my friends–all things I still struggle with here. For those few days, I felt more like myself than I have since I left Boston, and that was nice. It was exactly the sort of vacation that I needed.
Even though I wish that my first year in Atlanta hadn’t been so hard, and even though I still sometimes wish that I hadn’t left Boston, I’m still so very glad that I went there in the first place. I think I’ll always remember those two years as some of the best of my life. I’m grateful for the experiences I had there and the people who made me feel so loved and what I learned at school and outside of it. Last year as I watched Boston fade into the distance in my rear view mirror, I was sad to be leaving and wished I could stay even just a little bit longer. But more than that, I knew that those feelings were evidence of how good things had been for me there, and I was grateful.