Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Last Month in Georgia

Since I only have one month left in Georgia, I am transitioning to this new blog from my previous blog, Georgia State of State. This post is essentially a copy of my last post on that blog.

This summer I am finally feeling my interests and plans sealing together. Not that I have any definite specific plan, but at least I get a better feel for how my values, interests, and talents fit together. That is both an exciting and a daunting feeling. Once you begin to verbalize your ambitions and their implications to yourself--to make them palpable--then the prospect of disappointing yourself is also palpable.

My interests are not as Georgia-specific as when I started the Georgia State of State, but my affection for Georgia has only grown. On July 20 I am leaving Atlanta to start a PhD in Economics at UC Berkeley, and though I have moved many times before, this is the first time I anticipate being homesick. This is my first attachment to a place. I have run so many times down its roads, admired the cityscape from every view at every time of day and year. Every idea, every trouble of the past four years, I have digested running through Atlanta. I know the streets and feel like they know me, having witnessed all my moods, trials, and triumphs.

I have seen (and contributed to) Georgia's quirkiness. I have also seen need personified. Here is the power of place attachment: desperation has a face and lives in Georgia. I used to know, conceptually, people are in need, and that, intellectually, motivated me. Now I know, my people need me! I know it sounds ridiculous here and now to talk about my people. But how else can I refer to the multitudes who share my Piedmont Park and Freedom Parkway, my downtown views and strips of shade, my incredulity at the weather?

In four years in Georgia, I have become intellectual, but not an intellectual. Georgia does not breed intellectuals. It breeds decency. Though my studies take me ever farther into abstraction, esoterism, academe, I stay grounded in the understanding that academia may be a means, but never an end.

I got to live in Georgia at a most marvelous age--young but not too. Some days you can positively feel the glow of being young, capable, and striving. It burns and glows so intensely that others older and younger than you can sense it. They look to you to surprise them. And you hope beyond hope to never stop surprising yourself.

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