Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One year later...

At the Polk County line a sign reads "where people are friendly".  On a street entering Cedartown, lies another sign that reads "a good place to live, visit and do business".  As of today (or yesterday, depending upon whether you go by the day of the week or the date of the month), I have been here for one year and I can say without hesitation that I agree with both signs.

Oh, I grumble about being so far from stores that carry produce other than okra, squash and collards, and I grouse about it taking so long to get to the mountains or almost anywhere else from out here in the boonies, but those are minor issues.

What matters is the experience of life in a small southern town that hasn't changed all that much since I lived here as a child.  It's spread out, certainly, and there are bigger highways and strip malls and the inevitable WalMart, but inside, where it counts, the town hasn't changed.  People are friendly.  We know our city officials, police, commissioners and such by name and they're just neighbors.  The local radio station still reads obits and has a 15-minute call in time every morning to wish people a happy birthday or anniversary or whatever. No angry white men spewing the politics of fear, just pure, local programming that's sometimes corny as hell. But that's what makes it so endearing.

The things that needed changing have changed -- when I last lived here segregation was in full force, with separate stores, schools, water fountains, and everything else.  I missed out on the intervening years, but I'm happy to say that Cedartown seems to have had a happy experience with desegregation, and that blacks and whites co-exist in apparent comfort and equality in all areas. Crime is rare and petty, the city is responsive to needs of citizens, and an air of peace and contentment prevails.

And so, on the morning of February 8, 2010 I awoke in my motel in Bremen, 30 minutes south on I-20, then drove home, filled with all kinds of mixed feelings.  My first step was to drive to this house and see it for the first time, although it would be later before my real estate agent would meet me and I would see the inside.  I suppose I could have backed out at that point, but I would not have done so, nor did I want to.  After the closing, when the house was mine, I hit up WalMart for an air mattress and a few other necessities, unloaded my car and tried to settle down.  That was tough after six days of steady driving.

Was it the next morning that I woke up to snow, or the one after that?  I don't remember, but I know I had some fun with it.  Two or three weeks of sleeping on the air mattress and I had my furniture, finally.  Life began to take shape and continues to do so.  I've answered some of the needs of the house and it has a few more, but it's a solid home that keeps me warm and dry and safe. What more can I ask?

Would I do it all again?  Yes and no....

I would have left Oregon.  I think my need to be there had simply run its course. I'm still really glad I took the extra year on the south coast to do a bit of traveling, say 'goodbye' to San Francisco and the Napa Valley and the redwoods and the Oregon coast.  That year made the move easy, emotionally.  I filled my senses and my heart with places I loved. Enough to last.

Would I have come here? I have no regrets about returning to Cedartown, aside from the unexpectedly cold winters, but I think I might have simply rented an apartment so that 1) I wouldn't have to work; and 2) I'd have more free time to do some 'retirement' kinds of things.  But -- there are no do-overs on buying the house.  I have two more years to live here before I can sell or rent, without having to repay the government for the tax credit.  Will I want to move then?  Haven't a clue.  Ask me in a couple of years.

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