My childhood was rooted in the metro-suburbiapocalypse of Marietta, Georgia. I grew up next to the roots of the live Christmas trees we planted each year. (And I proudly named each one: Candy Cane, Cup Cake, Ginger Bread.) My roots stretched out beneath the small patch of strawberries that grew on the sunny side of the house…beside the earthworms I saved from drying out on the driveway after every heavy rain. My roots are in the grassy slope in the front yard where we put the Slip ‘N Slide each summer. And running under the single tree in the front yard where Dad insisted we put every last strand of 300-count ultra-bright Christmas lights one embarrassing holiday season.
I was planted there. It’s where I bloomed shyly, blossomed hesitantly. And before I knew how to stay put, I was carried away. Like pollen stolen by the honey bees.
My adolescent roots are just down the road from that little blue ranch house. In a bigger brick home with a smaller yard. Dad and I dug up all the seedling trees we’d planted at Milford Creek Lane and transplanted them to new house on Breconridge Drive. They were Fraser firs. Only a handful survived the move. But the few that did grow tall and proud there still today.
My roots are in the soft grass I ran over in the yard as I learned how to back the Mustang out of our crooked driveway for the first, second, and fifteenth times. And beneath the daylilies surrounding the front porch, which served as a backdrop for prom photos and high school graduation portraits. My roots are anchored to the honeysuckles that bloomed along our rustic fence in the springtime. And the jonquils planted around our sweet dog Sunny’s otherwise-unmarked grave in the backyard.
Some days, those roots still feel like home.
Then there was college, the place where you barely stand still long enough to let roots grow. From dorm to apartment to college house, my roots kept me coming back to family and familiarity on holiday weekends and breaks between semesters. To make sure life still existed the way I remembered, even as I was beginning to change.
After college, I left for Charleston. It was a temporary move at the time, but now I’ve been here six and a half years. My roots started tugging me into place in this coastal town—beneath the coarse sand, beneath the pluff mud, beneath the marsh grass—as soon as I arrived. Urging me to stay. Telling me this is the place. This is the place where I can flourish.
Now, having closed on my first home, I’m ready to buy my own Christmas trees for the yard…and give them good Christmas names, of course. I’m ready to dig into the Carolina earth and see what the dark soil below has to offer my Georgia-clay bones. I’m ready to be grateful for old, stubborn roots that kept me from running too far away from the people I love. And for roots strong enough to let me drift off to this place. The place where I’m finally ready to fly.
Image source: DIYdelicacy via Etsy