Tuesday, November 18, 2003

An obscure family tradition

Well, not yet, but I hope it will be in the not too distant future. I was thinking about how anxious I am to get home for Thanksgiving. Please allow me a small aside to discuss my use of the word home: Generally, when I say (or type) "home," I mean my house here in Atlanta. But I definitely think of Brunswick (where my parents live) as "home" as well, as in my hometown. Strange, since I only actually *lived* there for 4 years, but that's a discussion for another time.

Anyway, we used to drive from wherever we were living at the time (lots of moving growing up) to visit family, and as soon as we got close to Brunswick, my father's home town, he would turn to my brother and me and say, "Smell that marsh! Can you smell it?" I'd close my eyes, take a deep breath.... and no, I couldn't smell anything, except the Pulp Mill on occasion. Bleck! All those trips, he'd make the same comment, and I never could smell a thing. I've always had a pretty good sense of smell, so this surprised me. I seriously thought he was imagining it. We moved there when I was 14, and I "moved away" to start college four years later, but I was close enough (only 2 hours away) that I visited every couple of weeks. I still didn't smell it.

Two years later, I "really moved away" to complete my degree in Atlanta. I had been here for almost two straight months, it was Thanksgiving break, and I was so desperate to go home. I headed down the interstates; it was dark, I was tired, and I just wanted to be there! And all of the sudden, it hit me. The marsh. That smell! It smells like home!! I couldn't breathe deep enough, couldn't get enough of that wonderful scent into my body. Tears stung my eyes as it dawned on me: that was what Dad had been talking about all those years. In living there, it had become a part of me, but I had to move away in order to recognize it.

Now, every time I make that trip, a minimum of 4 times a year, the warm earthy scent hits me, and I hear my father's voice and I can't help but smile. Home. ::deep breath:: It smells like home. I can't wait to make that drive with my own children. Even if they roll their eyes and don't understand, like I did for so many years, I will still turn to them, every time, and say, "Smell that marsh! Can you smell it?"

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