The church clock chimes the noon hour and I am thinking of the things that I will miss living downtown. The sounds of traffic, fire sirens, train whistles and the clock chiming. The sounds of the children playing on the playground at the elementary school a block behind my apartment. Kickball sounds exactly as it did years ago. The dirt path, the low thud as your foot kicks the red ball, and the bounces as the fielders scrabble to get it. And the laughter mixed with the shouts of "you're out." I'll miss the local stores and the little pockets of cities that the sprawl have overtaken and melded into this mess of a city. The arguments over sewer debt and dirty air I will not miss.
I will miss smiling at the Vulcan's butt, the expression of "going over the mountain", warm bread from Continential, and the artistic community around the university. The mix of people from all walks of life - where the poor walk with the affluent and both love the neighborhood just as much. The city has made a love song in my veins and though I babble about traffic, dirt and poverty - I love the fact that I came here on my own.
Birmingham was a place I landed after a crumbled marriage and a decision to be serious about finishing my degree. I helped open a consulting office with my mentor and loved the success we found. Birmingham is where I realized my love of health care. It's where I grew into the adult I finally became and where I found the ability to be on my own. It's the place where I also rediscovered a passion that was never nurtured before. I will miss this place.
But, I know that all of that is within me still. That when I leave this city - it will not leave me. Friends tease me that I'm not moving to Siberia and I could quit acting like Camille on her deathbed. *cough cough* It's only 90 miles...but I don't know what those 90 miles meant to me.
All of the things I've learned, all that I am, all that will be - never let me forget this place. Never let me forget that I stepped off the cliff and though I didn't always soar, I still flew. That going home is not a failure but just a change in location. That home may be a cliff instead of a landing and I still have wings.