It was nearly four years ago that Chrissy and I got married and made an attempt at setting up a new life in Augusta, Georgia. Her parents were living in the area at the time, and even as a boy born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the south has always had an endearing appeal to me. And still does. We had nothing to lose and an entirely new life to gain.
As expected, it was ultimately a culture shock. Just the thought of a place where “How are you?” serves as a formal invitation for a complete recap of one’s day (and not simply a passive sense of acknowledgment) completely blew my mind. Life moved slower, people took their time with things, and happiness seemed to emanate from the simpler aspects of life. Like drinking cheap beer while relaxing in driveway-settled lawn chairs on a humid Saturday evening in the summer. All things I greatly appreciated.
Adding to the appeal was the fact that we could purchase a brand new, 3,000+ square foot, 5-bedroom home for the same price of a 3-bedroom, sub-2,000 square foot home in the western Philadelphia suburbs where we currently reside. With a future plan involving multiple children and dogs, that was surely a nice luxury to have, and the real estate options were nothing short of fantastic.
We enjoyed lazy Saturdays on my father-in-law’s boat on Clark Hills Lake, happily explored the culinary stylings of the south, and did our best to not simply appear as two clueless yankees always using the identification of obvious cultural differences as a means of conversation. Because “Back in Pennsylvania…” is a terrible way to get to know someone. I even once saw a woman at a pool using a confederate flag towel and did not say a word.
So, what happened? Why did we move back to Pennsylvania, buy a house, adopt another dog, have a kid, and ultimately settle down in the great Northeast? A mixture of things, really. Chrissy was unable to find a job, which, given the sparse surrounding economic environment of Augusta, wasn’t all that surprising. We greatly missed our close friends and other family members. The real estate market, while a buyer’s paradise, was atrocious from a resale perspective (high turnover rates thanks to nearby Fort Gordon was one of many reasons). We missed the place in which we came to know and love each other.
We are very happy with where we are in life at this very moment – geographically, mentally, romantically, etc. But I do, quite often, think about how things would be today if we stayed and built a home in Georgia as originally planned. If things worked out, we wouldn’t be reluctantly moving towards a search for a second home just 3 years after our first. We wouldn’t have just experienced one of the most horrendous and depressing winters ever. I probably would have been able to justify the purchase of a jet ski and motorcycle.
But alas, pondering over the ‘what ifs’ of life is mostly counter-productive. I always try to focus on enjoying the now and looking forward to the future with great hope and delight. Anyway, I’m already grooming my daughter to attend a SEC school – preferably UGA, LSU, or Alabama.
Which means that I may, yet, get to show Dixie how a proper cheesesteak is constructed. Like they give a shit.