I have just come in from sitting out on the balcony after a morning coffee and listening to my little resident mockingbird. The days are much colder and shorter now which is a pleasant replacement to the unrelenting heat and rain we have had in recent weeks. I have been here in the US for just over two and a half months now. As it is the start of the new year Zoe will be heading back to Australia soon and I will not be far behind. The second time around, and navigating life here alone, has been both joy and sorrow in that delightfully messy way that only life can be and while outside in the pale winter sun, I caught myself thinking a lot about Georgia.
I will miss the south when I leave but I will fondly remember and appreciate the rich cultural experience of living here. The wonderful and fascinating south with the sweetest of crawdads, the cotton fields, pecan orchards, the swamps, the Spanish moss, the music and its murderous ballads, the rich customs and the living on a shoe string yet generous people of this region. And there always seems to be two very strong bonds which are utterly and completely southern and those are food and family with both being dished up abundantly.
As I don’t like to leave my moments standing still I have been very productive with my time whilst here. It has been with a slower pace of life and mainly spent in the company of our dear little cat and the four walls of my apartment, but my time has been rich and I will share this over the next few blog posts.
But in the mean time, here are a few of my favorite moments so far:
Italian: I find the Italian dialect to be one of the most beautiful and seductive of languages. Each word is love and it is more alluring to my ear than French. In these quiet lovely Georgia evenings, I have been attempting to teach myself Italian. ‘Per chi’……for whom? For who am I learning this. ‘Per me ovviamente’……. for me obviously x
And I have also been cooking…..
Library: I love a public library. They are my enchanted palace and I find nothing more pleasing than to be surrounded by books. When not teaching myself Italian by lamp light I am voraciously reading the books I borrow from both of my local libraries. And frankly, nothing makes our little cat happier than to curl up on my lap while I settle in for the night with a very good book.
The ‘Houston County Centerville’ and ‘Nola Brantely’ Libraries
Eddie Izzard: The brutally honest, courageous, funny, beautiful and blisteringly caustic Eddie Izzard. He is one of the few comedians who can actually make me laugh….and think! He is also one of the few men who can carry off painted nails, very well applied makeup and heels and sadly for me, he looks better in a skirt than I do! It was so very fortunate that he was in American on his ‘force majeure’ 2015 world tour while I was here so I booked a ticket, travelled up to Athens and enjoyed an amazing night of comedy brilliance. And later that evening, a very good cocktail….. or three.
Please note: The Eddie Izzard promotional poster is from the ‘San Francisco Golden Gate Theatre’ website.
Athens Georgia: Athens is just over a two hour drive from where I live and the drive takes you through some of the loveliest country side. It really is a rolling green hills, dairy farms and quaint old forgotten townships road-trip if you stay off the interstate. I had travelled up to Athens to see Eddie Izzard and I decided to stay overnight which gave me the opportunity to haunt the streets and back lanes of this rather hip ‘uni’ town. Athens is home to the Georgia State University and with that comes some very good restaurants, bars, fab craft beer, juke joints (which I tend to favor) and great independent coffee houses. As with any southern town, Athens has an immense American civil war history underfoot and this town also has a great music and arts scene (it is home of R.E.M and the B-52’s), Pulitzer prize winning authors, abundant green space and some grand old buildings.
Gorgeous Vintage Athens Style: Where ever I travel, I will pretty much hunt out a great vintage store or two and Athens did not disappoint.
- The Pope on Prince – this is a wonderful and eclectic little store located above the Daily Groceries Co-Op. Head up the stairs to find a dimly lit loft chock full of fabulous and fun vintage treasures. I really loved this place and the prices were very reasonable. If I am ever in Athens again, I will certainly go back. Located 523 1/2 Prince Avenue, Athens GA.
- Dynamite Vintage – another great little store. Quirky and once again full of great handpicked items. I found a neat little vintage AC/DC concert tee in here…happy days my friends. 143 N Jackson St Athens. The bonus of Dynamite is that it is located right in the center of downtown Athens.
- I have saved the very best until last – Community. This really is beautiful. It too is perfectly located in downtown Athens and the idea of the store is centered around the concept of sustainability without sacrificing style. And who doesn’t love that. From the moment you walk in the store you are met with a wonderful array of vintage and contemporary pre-worn items, re-designed vintage apparel and lovely hand-made artesian items by local crafts people. The store demonstrates such great values as repurposing, reusing and redesign. They also offer sewing classes and workshops which enables you to refurbish your own vintage items making them uniquely yours. I was there just prior to Christmas and they had the most delightfully decorated tree but this tree was very different to all other Christmas trees. It was a ‘wishing tree’ and I adored the concept. There were tags and a marker pen in a basket under the tree. You selected a tab, wrote your wish on it then you hung your wish on the tree. There were beautiful messages from those who wished for peace, those wishing to get into college, for love, for happiness, for the safety of their loved ones, someone wished for a bigger booty! and another for good vibes. And my wish, I wished for everyone’s wish to come true. Community is truly what community spirit is all about. Find them at 119 N Jackson Street.
I know I will miss the south when I leave and I understand that the south still evokes images of slavery, rednecks and hillbillies, banjo plucking, poverty and racism and small backward towns but that is somewhat stereotyping this beautiful region. I don’t think any of us are in a position to speak lowly of that which we do not fully appreciate or understand. I guess the continually negative ones will always so easily fail to value the restrained dignity of the people who live here. They miss the beauty too in the fierce love and loyalty the people of the south hold so dear for family, god, their country and this state. I struggle with those who carelessly and continually lambaste the people and this region but I understand their criticism comes only from a place of ignorance and disillusionment of their own misplaced superiority. My understanding is that we should all be a little more purposefully mindful and kinder in how we view the world, those in it and for this beautiful broken place called the south for we ourselves are far from mirrors of perfection.
My leaving America will come very quickly now as the days are slipping by but where ever I am, I will always have a little Georgia on my mind…. xx