The Thing About Milly.

Maybe the word is quirky.

But "quirky" has multiple meanings. At times it means charming, eclectic and full of hidden gems. She wears colorful sweaters, uses glitter in homemade birthday cards, only writes with Micron .005 pens, collects cicada shells and arrowheads, and does little tap dances in public places when pleased*. She's strange and hard to explain, but I guess kind of adorable. Other times, it looks less like Zooey Deschanel and more like an annoying middle schooler who can't take social cues. The sweaters are obnoxious, I find flecks of glitter from that birthday card on my desk months after my birthday has passed, the pen thing gets weird, and I start to wonder if the "collections" are actually indicative of the less-endearing habit of hoarding. And if it weren't for that heart of gold I might grow immune to the charm in her quirks.

Whatever the word is, we know it when we see it. And I first saw a very specific version of it August of 2010 when I moved to Milledgeville. Beautiful antebellum homes flanked by corinthian columns, oak leaf hydrangeas, the quaint downtown, the bluegrass band at the farmer's market. The logging trucks.

But sure enough, years go by, everyone learns a lot, we cut our hair, underestimate a few people, grow our hair out, make new friends, change our minds, read books, find new normals, develop passions, get into yoga, get into shenanigans, and witness kale and quinoa go mainstream right before our very eyes.

And as things shift and change in the way things do, the sometimes-precious-sometimes-exasperating manner of life here becomes, more than anything, comfortable. Not the complacent kind, but the cozy kind. It no longer matters if it looks weird, because everyone knows it's weird and is SO okay with that. We realize the only place to find fro-yo is the back section of a warehouse attached to a Cross-fit gym, that you can rent puppies on the weekend from the street corner by Hibachi Buffet, and quite frankly we're proud of the fact that no one has dared touch the knit leg-warmers some anonymous hero affixed to the stone calves of the bobcat statue on front campus a couple years ago. Milly is a special place.
It's beautiful, and it's home.
And after being gone for a weekend, a week, or a month, the feeling of exceptional repose that comes with veering off I-20, rolling down the windows, and heading south on 441 for the last 45 minutes of the drive past pastures speckled with cows, pecan groves, and the glittery lake is still unparalleled.

I'll miss a lot of things about my college years in this weird, funny, beautiful, little miracle of a city:
-Living in the same home and on the same block as my best friends
-Getting up early and curling up on the porch swing with breakfast and a french press in time to watch the rest of the city wake up around me little by little
-Torry, the most fabulous lady/dining hall employee you will ever meet. She is honestly the bomb and I'll miss holding up the sandwich line as we chat about her weekend plans and she fills me in on all the exclusive behind-the-scenes work drama.
-Eating ice cream most days... Though this habit (lifestyle) is actually pretty sure to carry on, it won't take place with the same people, and for that reason I will miss it.
-Not spending money
-Walking everywhere
-Eating meals outside
-Sneakily clipping camellia and gardenia blooms on campus to bring home and put in vases on the kitchen table
-Debatably-legal situation(s) involving displaced farm animals
-Potlucks and pancake feasts with friends
-Living in a culture where wearing real pants constitutes as "looking nice"... And on that note, overall cutoffs are totally acceptable, as are scrunchies and Birkenstocks. (disclaimer: Contrary to what this bullet point may lead you to believe, I don't always look like a kindergartener in the 90s)
-Coming home to find a group of friends playing Monopoly on the coffee table in my bedroom
-Going to the pool at 1:00 on a Tuesday
-Falafel wraps from Metropolis
-Game nights
-The quiet
-The church bells
-Friends with home decor consisting of gargoyle statues, cardboard cutouts of people I actually know, troll dolls, high school trophies, holographic motivational posters, and lava lamps
-All of the other things

And to be fair, there are a few things I won't miss:
-The bountiful quantity of feral cats
-Cockroach season (a.k.a. anytime not winter)
-Waking up to the loud and profane monologue of the same confused man shuffling down the street past my house most mornings before the crack of dawn
-Limited restaurant options
Really, the cockroaches are the main thing. I just can't handle them. Spiders? Sure. Ants? No problem. Cockroaches? NOPE.

In a matter of days, I will no longer be a resident of this fine city. I don't care to answer the notorious "so, what's next?" question, because like all other non-psychic humans, I don't really know! Or maybe I do and I'm just saying that to spite everyone... I'm fleeing the country next Thursday (studying abroad), taking three last classes to make this whole "graduation" thing stick, and then after that I plan on moving, finding a job, working very hard, and making friends, but I'll keep you posted as specifics begin to take shape. Until then, you can find me enjoying my last couple days in Milledgeville. I'll be the one in overalls sneaking past the GC Grounds Crew with a fistful of Gardenias.

*Based on real-live friends of mine