This past August I began my Writing M.F.A studies. When I applied, I was living in South Africa and completely unaware that I could take the classes online. Moving to Savannah, Georgia gave John and me the opportunity to finally live together somewhere new and exciting. But the move proved more difficult than we expected. It quickly became a story we like to tell friends over a few beers.
The weekend we planned to move to our new apartment, everyone else seemed to have the same idea. All of the Uhaul minivans were unavailable for weeks. I had procrastinated in reserving our own vehicle and now we (and by ‘we’ I mean John) were stuck driving a bulky 10′ truck down 95.
If you have ever seen a Uhaul truck, you know that the sides feature random facts with a corresponding image. When we went to claim ours, I was embarrassed to discover it was about slavery. It seemed like a cruel joke; a young, white couple moving their belongings to the Deep South with an image of a slave slapped on the truck. I worried what this would say about us.
To save money, we completed the 11-hour journey (not including gas and bathroom stops) in one day. It seemed the trip would never end, but then we crossed the Talmadge Memorial Bridge just as the sun began to set.
Our landlady met us to give us the keys and then despite how tired we were from driving all day, we unloaded the truck. We wanted to turn the Uhaul in as soon as possible the next day so they didn’t tack on another day’s charge. Although we didn’t have much, we were exhausted and not thrilled about our next task.
The apartment was located in Midtown Savannah and that night there was a drunk who sensed an opportunity. He loitered around, slurring his offer to grab stuff for us. While I wanted to believe in his good-will to help, I just didn’t like how he kept eyeing up the boxes. Taking turns so as not to leave what little we had for the taking, we loaded as much as we could in our arms and schlepped up the two flights of stairs to apartment 206. After two hours of this workout, only the couch and John’s weights remained for the next morning. As long as we dropped the keys in the key box before the Uhaul dealer opened, we wouldn’t have to pay an extra day’s charge.
We were completely spent and famished. Of course, this was the perfect time to learn that not many restaurants in Savannah deliver. Our mattress also had not yet arrived, so we slept on the floor.
Then came the fun part. We got to explore Savannah. We went to Tybee Island’s beaches (such an upgrade from the dirty, overcrowded Jersey beaches we were used to).
We went to Charleston, SC for a day exploring art museums, wandering down neighborhoods lined with historic homes and eating grits for the first time. While John didn’t care for the texture, I loved the cheesy, thick goo.
We visited Savannah’s modest Botanical Gardens and pretended to be butterflies.
We spent sunny days in Forsyth Park and visited the farmer’s market early Saturday mornings for local produce and the best home-made curry.
And boy did we eat! Unlike the chain restaurants that litter the north, Savannah offered so many delicious and unique places that made us want expandable waist pants and stretch out on the couch after.
Besides the oppressive heat in August, John and I loved Savannah. We loved how we constantly stumbled on new restaurants, we fell in love with the romance the Spanish Moss exuded, and everyone seemed friendly.
Nine months later, our Savannah chapter seems to be closing. Being in our late twenties, most of our friends from home are getting married. Our siblings have young ones we don’t get to spend time with and holidays away from family are difficult. Having lived abroad for two years, quality time with loved ones seems really important right now.
The job market and pay rate has also been a deciding factor for our move. John made a sacrifice to blindly follow me as I furthered my education, but penetrating the tightly knit southern job market proved more difficult. With most of my core classes completed, I will be switching online and hopefully finishing my degree Spring ’18 quarter. John, on the other hand, has multiple job offers back home and has decided to move back tomorrow.
This of course means that I finish the last six weeks of this quarter here by myself.
It means I walk through Forsyth alone, past the restaurants we took our families and friends, and home to an empty apartment where we first slept on the carpet floor completely spent but happy. It means I have no one to throw dirty socks at from upstairs and no one to hug when a grad school critique feels harsh. After living on separate continents for close to two years, you would think it would be easy for me.
I am excited for him though. And I am also excited to start the next chapter, whatever and wherever that is.