Adam Richman chowing down a Four Horseman burger and getting his name on the wall to prove it. Why didn't we just institute "date-night", you ask, or repaint the dining room a lovely shade of cinnamon? Well-in the first place, we were living in a rental house with a dining room that had already been HGTV-ed within an inch of its life by the homeowner-complete with a diamond marquis wall-pattern in two colors, a sponge-treatment top coat, and three-quarter chair rail just to keep it lively. So we had spice covered, I guess you could say, from a faux-finish perspective. And just so we're clear, those colors were turquoise and gold.
I suppose, ultimately, that the appeal in going Green Acres was greater than just change of pace. Growing our own food, being our own boss, and enjoying our very own built-in babysitting network of grandparents, aunts, cousins, and friends. We lunged hard and wrapped our hearts around what seemed to be the stuff of dreams and Barbara Kingsolver books and in the span of a few weeks, derailed our life and careers in Atlanta for another life, in another part of the country. I was going home, to the wide open spaces of my childhood, to the familiar faces that had, over time, merged together to form one, nameless, friendly face I was sure would welcome me back even though I had no idea who it was anymore.
We left the place where we'd really gotten married-because it wasn't the steeple or white dress or perfect August day that bound us together in Ohio-it was our adventure in this Atlanta, where we knew no one and had nothing but one another for comfort and for calm. We left the career my husband built almost from scratch, and we left relationships and we left gardenias and traffic and 70 degrees in February, for what was greener. We had no idea what we were doing, but we held hands, closed our eyes, and jumped.
When I write about those early days-before we got there and the reality sunk in that it wasn't going to be all romping through the fields, the four of us on reclaimed barnwood picnic benches under an orchard canopy, enjoying heirloom tomato salads while a crew from Martha Stewart Omnimedia captures us in perfect light--when I write about those days, I can still feel the romance; how we dwelled in possibility. How it could have been.
It wasn't what we thought. Is anything, ever?
I haven't written about our return to Atlanta, even after nine months, because it is just still so close to the bone for me. And I can talk and write about some really difficult things; I am kind of available that way. But I haven't yet found the language with which to trust the story. I can say that it wasn't right, and that I was desperate with anxiety, and that we did what we had to do, which was run. There's more to it, yes, but even after thinking about this choice for the last 270 days, just when I think I have perspective-I sit down to write this post and a river of grief trickles underneath a crack in the office door. And then it's in my shoes, and rising, and the only thing I can think to say is: I wanted it all.
On my last night there-when we knew we were coming back to Atlanta, and we were just all so broken, and tired, and the sadness was thick like humidity, I walked outside on our land, and it was dark, and perfect, and the stars were more beautiful, I knew, than they'd ever be, anywhere else in the world. Ever. And I gave that up. Along with a blackberry patch, and a sledding hill. Dreams on top of dreams.
I am still in both places. Living in Atlanta, with the husband and children-but we own the spice, still. It's probably more spice than we wanted--this double life. I don't like being spread out this way, hearts and to-do lists divided. I wish I had a home of my own, only I do, right? In another state. It's a complicated order. We have no idea what's going to happen in the next couple of months-in our lives here, or there. What I want for this blog is for it to be a place where I can communicate freely about all I'm juggling-and how I enjoy it most of the time. But how sometimes, I'd like to send this all back to the kitchen, and have them start over. Maybe just some oatmeal this time?