I arrived back in Tallahassee late last night. It isn’t home anymore, except it kind of is. I have that feeling that a lot of my life happened here, which I think is the way you feel about the place you grew up.
I guess I could say that I have that feeling about a lot of places. However, Tally is where I bottomed out and really began my life. I put down the bottle here and began a new life that was full of heartache, anger and resentment. It isn’t like I didn’t have those things before, I just began to learn to deal with them here. In this place that is overwrought with sweet tea and Spanish moss. People who will bless me as they then talk about me behind my back.
It was here with these people, among the live oaks and southern charm that I found myself. Not the person that I wanted to be back then, but the roots of the person I am today. Here, in this place where the air feels like breathing through a wet washcloth...here. I guess this is just one of my many versions of home.
As I sit here writing from my second story flat in downtown, I can hear the birds waking as the sunlight filters through the dense foliage of old oaks that have been here since the civil war. The sun dapples my bed and the day wakes with me. I have this love/hate relationship with the South. So many things here that I can’t stand and yet I love it. It is kind of like how you feel about your family - they drive you nuts but in the best way. In a way that you would not tolerate from anyone else. But they are your people, they the keepers of all the different versions of you that have existed over time and space. Tally is kind of like that for me. I lived here as a drunk undergrad and then an even drunker law student. I almost got married here and then blew that to smithereens. I returned to live here as a married, sober woman with kids. My parents lived a great portion of their lives here also. So this place, is the longest hometown I have ever known...
I am not sure what it feels like to come from just one place. I do not have that experience. I have come to love my vagabond life. Growing up wherever I landed, or not. It was here in this big city town that I learned that my life was worth living, and began the arduous task of commanding it. This place with mosquitos the size of hummingbirds is where I finally stopped running from me and turned and faced the me that I was. The ugly, tormented, twisted version of myself. The me pickled in booze and cigarettes. This is where I straightened out. This is where I ended and began...
Perhaps that is a good definition of home: the place where you figure out who you were and make adjustments. Life altering adjustments that change your life and trajectory forever. No matter how much hardship there was here, I return grateful for every horrible moment because all those moments led me to this place in time where I feel whole, alive and ok. Life is good and so am I.
And perhaps that is what home is to me more than a place, a state of mind, an inner peace that exists in my heart, that is both poignant and sad and happy and affirming. Home is not so much a location in space but a geography of my own internal progression. A marker of who I have been overlaid with who I have become.
I am grateful today to walk the town in all its Southern elegance and remember all the times. The good, the bad, the near death misses and the salvation that came to me here where the rainy season is way overdone. The place where I finally stopped running from myself and instead sat the fuck down and did the hard work of learning to love the broken, misshapen woman whose attempts at life almost killed her. What better place to do that than in your own hometown...wherever that exists in your heart.