Small Town, Georgia, Girl

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           I have a new baseball cap that labels me as exactly who I am. It says “Small Town Girl”. It has a map of Georgia embroidered on it with a star designating my approximate location in the state. It was a gift, and I love it!

I guess I’ve always been a small town girl, even though I was born in Piedmont Hospital in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, in 1948. But even though I was born in a large hospital in Georgia’s capital city, I never claimed Atlanta as my own.

I grew up in Decatur, Georgia, which during the 50s and 60s was indeed a small town. We were six miles from downtown Atlanta, which to the child that I was seemed like an awfully long way from home. It was too far to walk, so we had to take the trolley if we wanted to go downtown to go shopping at Rich’s. My mother didn’t drive a car, meaning that most of our shopping was done right there in Decatur. It was when Mama needed patterns and fabric to make clothes for my sister and me that we dressed up like we were going to Sunday School, hopped on the trolley near the Decatur train station three blocks from our house, and spent the entire day downtown, getting off the trolley back home in Decatur late in the afternoon, just in time for Mama to prepare our family supper. Sometime in my adolescent years, Decatur lost her small town status to become part of Metropolitan Atlanta. But she remained a small town for me until long after I moved away at the age of sixteen. Today, even though Decatur retains much of her small town charm, the traffic congestion and difficulty in finding a place to park that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, along with the variety of pricey restaurants, remind me that she really doesn’t qualify for “small town” status in my mind anymore. Even the houses on the street where I grew up are now priced so far out of my reach when they go on the market to be sold, I could never afford to live there these days!

Enter Monroe, Georgia, the small town I have called home for the past five years. Now, this little town reminds me more of the Decatur where I grew up than any place I know. Yes, we have our traffic snarls on Broad Street, especially when the big trucks are trying to get through town on their way from one of the interstates to the other, and when I am trying to come out of the Walmart parking lot during rush hour or on Saturday. It’s a lovely little town, with friendly people, welcoming churches, a terrific little community theater, a Saturday farmer’s market, lots of small shops for browsing and purchasing interesting items of all kinds, safe places to walk my little dog Sunshine, a strong medical community, and the warm touch of Georgia hospitality. People here wave as they drive by, and they pause on the sidewalk to say hello to my dog. They don’t ignore me as I walk past and will look at me and greet me with a smile.

If you had told me ten years ago that I would be living in Monroe, Georgia, I probably would have shaken my head, pondered in my mind just where Monroe is on the Georgia map, furrowed my brow, and asked, “Where? Why?” It isn’t important why or how I landed in Monroe, but I am happy that I did. I was even able to purchase a small home – one that I could afford – to set down a root or two. I am making this my home for awhile and claim this little town as my own, even though I am a transplant.

Small Town, Georgia, is a good place for someone like me. I live a simple life, enjoy listening to the birds singing in the trees around my home and watching the deer in the park, appreciate that nothing that I need is further than 10 minutes away by car (and I could walk if I had to!), and have made some very good friends. All this, and more, are what make me a true blue “Small Town Girl.”

In the novel that I wrote, “Fishbowls and Birdcages,” the main character was someone like me, a person who moved around from town to town, never quite belonging, and never sure just where Home was. She finally found her place, and it, too, was in Small Town, Georgia, although hers was a fictional town. She learned that the saying, “bloom where you are planted,” had a positive meaning for her as she developed her own identity and strength through her faith in God. Fran found her place, and I have found mine.

Yes, I am now officially a Small Town Georgia Girl. My new hat is proof of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As I Bid Farewell to 2015 (and also 2014)

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My collection of days for 2015 is at an end. My journal book that I began in January of 2014 is full. I have three pages left in it, which I will fill up before 2016 begins. A new journal book waits quietly on my bedside table, full of empty pages, ready for my words to embrace it. A new year beckons.

Over the past two nights, I have gone back and read my journal of the past two years. Interesting! Oh, the journey I have been on! I can now see the road map clearly as I read what was not in focus at the time of my writing. I re-live the smooth paths as well as the rocky ones, the sunny days and the stormy ones, and feel the scrapes on my knees as I recall my falls and miss-steps. I hear the laughter in my voice over joyous days, and the gut-wrenching sobs over days that brought anger, fear, loneliness, and confusion to my life.

What is eye opening to me as I recall the days of the past two years are the changes in me and the growth that has taken place. When I began the journal, I was at the end of a 20-year marriage that had left me reeling from personal tragedy and loss, unsure of who I was or what my purpose in life was. I was testing the waters on a new relationship, one just as toxic and dangerous as the one I had just been freed from. I didn’t see it as 2014 began, but as those first journal pages turned, I saw myself quickly realizing the darkness bearing down on me, and ending the relationship within the first month of the year. It was tough and venomous-appearing, but deep in my heart, I knew it was what I had to do. It was at that moment in January of 2014 that the little girl who once had stomped her foot and declared to her mother, “I can do it myself,” returned and took control of her life.

As 2014 and 2015 unfolded in my journal book, I saw threads of growth and transition within myself. Frustrations repeated themselves over and over, as I maneuvered my way through my days, figuring out the best way to travel through them. Joy returned to my heart, in many different forms; I let go of the old and embraced the new. I saw patterns of growth, spiritual and mental, as I read my own words from the days of these two years. Indecision and confusion led to answers and revelations. I could actually see myself “becoming” – change was written on almost every page. These two years have been pivotal. I grew up. I accepted myself for who I am and where I’ve been- scars and all. I discovered and owned up to myself as a flawed, bruised, and damaged person, but also as a flower opening up to bloom. As Fran, the main character in the novel I wrote, kept harping on, I learned how to “bloom where I am planted.”

The end of 2015 is days away. My journal book is completed. These two years are over, and I will tuck this book away in my drawer of personal treasures.

A new collection of days eagerly awaits my footsteps. My new journal book rests next to my bed. Her pages are blank today.

I am ready.

NOTE: If you haven’t read my novel, Fishbowls and Birdcages, I invite you to take a look. This has been one of my most fulfilling accomplishments of these past two years. It is available in paperback and Kindle version on Amazon.com.