Our journey has officially begun. Yesterday we left Atlanta and began the trek down to Columbus, GA. We’ll be here the next two days as Matt takes some classes to prepare for his new job.
We officially left Atlanta at about 3:00 yesterday afternoon. Sunday was a long day of cleaning and packing that started at 6:45 when we left our friends Brian and Ashley’s place (we crashed there that night after a long day of brunch followed by Dogwood Festival followed by dinner and drinks). We said final goodbyes to Lucky, who had slept with us in the guestroom that night, before we began our final, sad walk to the place we called home. My eyes welled up as I gently guided Lucky into his crate to wait for his new parents to awake, but I didn’t cry. I think my body at this point was empty of all tears after bawling on Friday night and getting hit with the occasional tear shower on Saturday (I’m sure my dehydration had nothing to do with the beer, pickle backs and salty foods we consumed Friday night and Saturday).
On our journey back we walked through a beautiful new park to the rear of Ponce City Market. It stretches between Ralph McGill and North and is framed on one side with new apartments. The other side backs up to what looks like a lot for Georgia Power. The cement trail running through it winds itself around a large pond featuring cool fountains and a wide, man-made waterfall. The sun was just coming up and we strolled hand-in-hand through the park enjoying both it and the quiet beauty of the morning. We laughed as we walked through it about finding a cool new gem on our last day in Atlanta.
Our walk home took us by the new Dancing Goats Coffee Bar on North. We stopped and got Arden’s Garden juice (Matt had orange juice and I got a pineapple-apple-ginger concoction. Both were very good) and two nonfat lattes. We walked the rest of the way home sipping on our coffees and talking about our excitement and fears for the journey ahead (the juice we chugged before we even left the cafe). It felt surreal that we only had a few hours left in our city.
The rest of the morning was a veritable blur of packing and cleaning. My cousin, Brady, came to say goodbye and the carpet cleaner finally got there around 10. Though we were both exhausted from a weekend of partying (and a week leading up to it of packing and cleaning) and fairly emotionally drained from the heartache of saying goodbye to our pets and our friends, we did have a tearful moment when Matt found a dog treat Lucky had “hidden” in the dining room. He came into the bathroom I was cleaning with tears running down his face and pulled me out to see where the little doggy bagel we gave Lucky on Friday morning was neatly tucked in the corner of the now-empty dining room. We embraced and squeezed each other tight as we thought about our loving little puppy.
At about noon, we took a quick break to grab a bite at Papi’s Grill (a wonderful authentic Cuban restaurant tucked into a building on the corner of Ponce and Myrtle). We shared a bowl of black bean soup and I got pollo vaca frita while Matt got the ropa vieja. The soup was light and had just the right amount of seasoning. My chicken was savory and was mixed with sauteed green and red pepper. It came with black beans, rice, plantains and a green salad. I didn’t try Matt’s dish, but I’ve had the ropa vieja there before and it is delicious! I recommend trying Papi’s if you are ever in the area.
After lunch, we returned once more to our condo and completed our last bit of packing and cleaning. We stood there for a moment when we were done with our six suitcases and hugged as we stared around our first home together. It’s a strange feeling to see your entire lives in just a handful of bags. On the one hand, it’s freeing knowing you are tied to so few possessions, on the other it’s a little nostalgic and scary to give up the life you are used to for a new one that’s not yet clearly defined past the next three weeks.
Once we had everything loaded into Matt’s car, we headed to the airport where we picked up our rental car to get us around the next few days. We then headed to CarMax where we sold Matt’s car. I joked as we left the lot that we are now officially car-less and homeless.
Our next stop was Longhorn Steakhouse. We were hungry and still had an hour and a half drive, so decided to grab dinner before making the last leg of our journey that night. The restaurant was absolutely packed, so we ended up sitting at the bar. A very chatty guy in his 50’s sat next to us and struck up a conversation with us. He was very interested in our lives and where we were headed. We learned he was from Pittsburgh, but was down in Georgia for work for a couple of weeks. Neither Matt nor I really felt like talking as we were both so tired at that point, but I realized that this guy was just like me now. We’re going to be in a lot of places where we don’t know another soul, so keeping this guy company at dinner was worth exerting the last bit of energy I had left in me for the day. Once we were back on the road, though, I almost immediately fell asleep.
We arrived at our hotel in Columbus at about 8:00, leaving us just enough time to check in, make a bowl of popcorn and tune in to the season premier of Game of Thrones. Our new life has officially begun.