On the bus from Mississippi right now. It’s causing me to think how completely different our lives have been when compared to what we both knew just one year ago. The Deep South was something that I had only fabricated mental images of and what I thought it should be. Now we live here and call it home. In fact, I’m listening to CCR while writing this, giving it all the more of that clichéd southern feel. I’ve realized that Alabama would be a sweet home and that Mississippi is quite beautiful. I’ve learned that Atlanta is not the same as Georgia and admittedly the only peach tree I’ve seen since we moved here was at the Clemson University orchard in South Carolina (pretty sure I know what they look like too). The Civil War has come to life a bit, as if we’re living in a world not that long recovered from the conflict. All of this seems very idealized but in the end we still have a 20 min commute through big-city traffic and a full load of college coursework. Not that romanticized, right? Well, let me give you a brief recap of what we’ve experienced over the past 8-ish months here “Down South.”
We left one day last August in our untested, recently-repo’d then bought from the bank by us car, including everything in the world that we owned stuffed inside. We hit the road with a big map that my mom bought us, and our destination was “Atlanta, GA.” That was literally as specific as our endpoint was. We made the 2100 mile drive in 3 days and who knows how many tanks of gas. On the way we saw an ever-changing cross-section of the beautiful USA from Utah to Georgia including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. We got here and texted google for directions on how to get to where we were to stay that night. We ended up staying in the cheapest hotels we could find (aka the most shady) for a few days as we wandered around Atlanta homeless, with everything still in the back of the car. It was definitely very hot and very humid. Kacee’s dad then came to our rescue via the Lloyds, some family friends of the Hildebrandts. They graciously let us stay in their basement, indefinitely, until we could find an apartment. They even gave us a GPS since we only had the inset map of Atlanta in the corner of the Georgia page of our road map to get us around. It helped (and has continued to help) us sooo much.
We finally found an apartment in a complex that has become our little refuge from the big city. It feel like our own little forest oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle. We love it here and I’ve already started missing it for when we have to move one day. There’s nature trails, a pond with a bunch of different animals, hidden gardens, free car washes/vacuums, 7 swimming pools, valet dry-cleaning, etc, etc.
Kacee has had a different school, coach, and team for the past 3 years in a row. She was very brave and trusting in coming out here with me, and to both of our relief, all three of those things here in Atlanta turned out to be better than expected. The team here is great in general but great for her specifically. She loves you guys (I know you’re reading this). The coach takes care of her and she loves running in part because of his coaching style. I’ve been able to get my coaching feet wet as a volunteer assistant here as well. Being Kacee’s coach is pretty fun, I act like I know what I’m doing most of the time. I’ve learned a lot already on how this whole coaching thing works, experience that is difficult to come by since the NCAA coaching world is one that you don’t break into very easily. Coach England has been very accommodating and patient with me, giving me more and more to do as I prove myself capable. Being in a coaching role has allowed me to be involved with athletes in a new and intriguing way that I hadn’t experienced as an athlete myself. The school is definitely different but she and I get to chill between classes in my “office” every day with our little group of friends that I work with in the lab and department which helps both of us a lot get through the long days. Only one more year for both of us to be done!
The ward here is different than we’ve experienced before. There’s a lot of younger couples and then a few homegrown members that have been staples of the ward for a long time. It’s probably the friendliest ward either of us have ever experienced. We both have good callings but Kacee has completely loved hers, teaching the 5 yr olds. She calls them her “babies” and all she wants to do is buy them treats. It’s also been rough not having a functioning temple here but at the same time the Atlanta temple is going to be rededicated next week and being involved with an open house in our own temple has been great. I was able to be a tour guide one day and it was the most spiritual experience of the year for me, I loved it.
Overall I have to admit that this whole experience did not go exactly how I had envisioned. However, it has gone right. I’m no genius but it’s extremely comforting we have one above directing our lives out here. We both feel strongly that we were meant to come out here for some reason and we’re slowly learning why. I’m sure there’s a whole new adventure awaiting us next August when we return, one that we are both eager to live.