11.03.2013

Pa-ting!




*pa-ting!*

That's the sound of an acorn hitting the hood of my truck outside. The wind just blew, catching the leaves of the oak tree, shaking the branches and jarring loose another acorn.

It's just the one this time. The past few days, it's one or two at a time. A week ago, however, it was dozens, hitting the truck hood and windshield and the metal roof of this duplex.

*pa-ting!*
*pa-tack!*
*pa-thwack!*

It sounded like a drum solo on an old washing machine by a six year old in their first drum lesson. It sounded like a warzone in a far future alternate reality where humans fight sentient robots armed only with pellet guns. It sounded like a bunch of mischievous kids who figured out that you can freeze paintballs and really cause some havoc during battles.

Now, it's just one at a time. So it just sounds like an acorn falling off an oak tree outside a duplex that I stay in, hitting my truck hood. That's what autumn sounds like here. The rustle of wind and a *pa-tack!* now and again.

I lay with my dog, in my bed, under my blankets, in a place that isn't mine. I listen to a tree that isn't mine, dropping acorns that aren't mine as it rustles with unfamiliar sounds.

My first autumn in 12 years in a new place.

Autumn used to sound like the rustling of blankets as she cozied up closer to get warm. It used to sound like a tiny, nearly inaudible hum as the heater blew from the attic. It sounded like a tiny whistle as the wind rushed across the gutter shields that lined the roof just outside the window. It sounded like our owl hooting at the moon. It sounded like a deer as it grazed in our yard, suddenly running as our one and only neighbor pulled across our bridge with a *ka-klak-ka-klak-ka-klak*, home from her night shift.

It sounded like home.

I listen... I hear my dog breathing softly. I hear the sight jingle from the bell around one of my cats' neck as he yawns and stretches and rolls over beside me. I hear the wind, and the tree, and another acorn land on the roof.

*pa-thwack!*

That's the sound of my reality. That's the sound of now.

I'm moving in a few weeks. Not because I am unwelcome here -- my friend Mike has made it clear that I always have a home with him. And I am beyond grateful. But I cannot be here for the holidays. As weak as that may sound, as pathetic as it is, I cannot be in this city when the turkeys are being carved and the Christmas music starts.

I'm going to a new place for a while. I've found a little work up there, and while it's not much, it's enough of a justification to leave for a while. I've got some amazing friends up north who are giving me and my dog and my cats a place to be for a bit.

Atlanta has been my home for 36 years, 10 months and some days. It will always be my home. And that's precisely why I can't be here for the next two months. It is too hard. And because I am able, I am choosing not to be here. Call it weak. Call it sad. Call it what you will.

*pa-ting!*

Another acorn. Another breath my dog takes. Another thought of the days that have passed that led me to now.

I wonder what the winter will sound like in my new home.