It has come to my mind a lot lately that this town is memory soaked. Every corner, every trail, and every building has a story stuck to it. Every person, every face, has a name that rings bells in your head and flashes images through your mind.
Where are your stomping grounds? Recently, mine seem to be growing. It seems that every exit off the highway has a beacon to a place I’ve momentarily considered home.
Drive north. Chattanooga street art and photographs of my best friend are the glue that holds the “Clumpies Icecream” sticker on to the back windshield of my car. Pura Vida juice bottles sit on my nightstand and ferment, because I’m too scared to loose the memories. They’ll always be there.
Drive east. Find the place that I’ve spent my summers in the Georgia heat. The Camp Christian lake begs us to jump in and maybe one summer we will. I’ve walked this path a thousand times and each time a new memory was made. Megan chipping her teeth. The night that I was sure there was a wolf prowling. So many midnight sneak-outs and games of truth or dare hidden in the dark. The place where I found God’s glory and I felt His grace.
Fly west. Seattle and Tacoma nestle the city of Puyallup where I spent that week senior year. A thursday night high school football game and friends I’ll probably never get the chance to meet again still soak the jacket I bought at the Tacoma mall. The henna from the state fair has washed away, but the memories never will.
Stay here. Marietta, Roswell, Atlanta: my true stomping grounds. As moving out edges nearer, more and more ancient memories swarm me. Land of a Thousand Hills still feels like french presses with Banter Squad. The Beltline and Kennesaw Mountain still remind me of Noah’s video camera. The Krispy Kreme in Marietta still makes me choke back the tears when I remember Jacob messing around, parking his car on the first night I truly met him. The one in Roswell is a reminder of free donut night after babysitting a wedding. Driving the roads here have a soundtrack that ranges from Bryce Vine to ODESZA.
They say you shouldn’t live in the past and that what has already happened doesn’t define you. I think it should. No, not your faults, but the memories. The memories that make you throw your head back laughing and the ones that bring tears to your eyes. That is who you are. That is what you’re made of.