The time is finally here and tomorrow is Emma's and my last day in Athens, Georgia. We leave on Friday morning as soon as we get the car loaded. That makes tomorrow my last day at work and Emma's last day at the Athens Montessori School. I can't believe it -- I think I have been in a type of denial since we decided to move and since Jim left in mid-March to start his new position. We've been so occupied with buying and selling houses and arranging moves and finishing up projects at work and at home that I haven't had much time to really get sad -- but tonight I am alone in the hotel room and Emma is asleep and all our work in Athens is done except for the Closing tomorrow at 3:00pm when the first house I have ever owned won't be mine anymore. It's like being in a sort of limbo -- a place in between lives. I feel horribly sad about the end of our time here, but also very excited about the prospect of new and different things to come. Overall I have a good feeling. The sadness is a good sadness that comes from having lived fully here in Athens -- having contributed to the community and to my work and church -- of having watched Emma grow up here -- having conceived and carried Sam here and of having lost him here too surrounded by our community of church, work and friends. We moved here on a bit of a whim -- taking a risk -- and what a great time it turned out to be.
So here are some of the people, things and places I'll miss the most about Athens -- and some of my fondest memories. I keep thinking of more so this is necessarily an incomplete list.
*Georgia Gym Dogs -- it's not everywhere that you can get really good seats for $25 for the season for a 3 time NCAA championship team with two former Olympic Gymnasts
*Concerts at UGA's Performing Arts Center -- great prices, great performers, great venue and only a 10 minute drive from our house with free parking.
*Downtown Athens -- it's always had a European flare to me with the sidewalk cafes, restaurants and neat shops like Helix, Frontier and Native American Gallery. I have very fond memories of sitting outside at East West Bistro and people watching while enjoying appetizers and a glass of wine -- OR on cooler or hotter days sitting upstairs at Speakeasy with a Bellini and a cheese plate.
*UGA's North Campus -- how many people are lucky enough to work in a botanical garden/arboretum complete with fountains (again how European) within walking distance of a cool little downtown filled with the above mentioned items.
*Cecilia's cakes -- especially Caramel -- didn't think I had to come to a smallish town in the South to get the best cakes I've ever eaten.
*St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church -- what can I say -- we felt at home here virtually right away and will really miss our church family. I always thought a "church family" was a bit hokey until we were members here.
*My screened porch and garden. -- It doesn't get much better than sitting in my comfy Adirondack chair with my feet on the footstool and a cool drink in my hand enjoying the view of my back yard and woods. In Athens I could enjoy this for at least half of the year.
*Lunches at Roly Poly with my good friend and colleague Wendy. -- We'd talk about everything -- often work, but often not. I have threatened to call her there once a week while she is eating so we can continue the tradition. We both have Verizon cell phones with IN calling plans so it would be free. The place is great too -- where else can you get a half sandwich that's not too huge to eat for under $5 and you have over 100 choices!
*Golden Sun Chinese Restaurant. -- It was very hard to say Goodbye here. We started going there almost right after we moved here in 2001 and the owners are terrific. He would always come over and say hello and he loves kids and befriended Emma right away. Then they had children and put photos of them up and their oldest goes to school at Athens Montessori. Occasionally when we went he would be there and he and Emma would play and even got tours of the kitchen. They gave Emma a little jade necklace as a going away present. As far as Chinese Restaurants go it is terrific. The food is fantastic, the service is great and it's also a very "gemutlich" (cozy, comfortable) place to eat.
*Hair Therapy. -- What can I say -- there is no place like this and no other person like James Willis. He cuts hair fantastically and is entertaining and makes you feel really at home. I always feel better after going there so it really is Hair Therapy. He and his partner also throw great Christmas open houses with lots of wine and appetizers and desserts. I will REALLY miss him and Liz and Jamezell.
*Meridian Women's Chorus -- and all my fellow Meridian members. The Athens Banner Herald article was right -- we are more than a singing group. I know I can find another singing group -- but I will never find another group like ya'll -- unless I try to found one. Hmmmm.....
*Ballet classes and Miss Marianne. She's encouraged Emma from the start in her ballet through which I also rediscovered that I love to watch dance.
*Great co-workers. This is really the first place I have worked where I really genuinely liked all the people I work with. I don't always agree with them and at times some of them have driven me a bit crazy --as I have probably done to them at times too -- but I really like and respect them all.
I guess I will stop here. May add more later, but this has helped me get through this evening.
I love all of you here in Athens and promise to come back and visit -- you know those Winters in New England are long a very cold!
View of downtown Athens from North Campus
Sidewalk cafe tables outside Cookies and Company
Helix, my favorite store