I first met Milledgeville when I was seventeen. I was touring colleges and attempting to figure out where I wanted to be. A student friend of mine showed me Georgia College’s campus, walked me through downtown and we ate lunch at The Brick.
A year later, we met again when I took an official tour and decided that Milledgeville would be the place I would spend my next four years.
I arrived as a freshman terrified that I had made the wrong choice. I could hardly find anything on campus, I didn’t know anything about downtown and I knew next to no one.
Today, as a graduate of Georgia College, I think back four years and laugh. Now, I know Milly like the back of my hand; where everything on campus is, where the best place to get wings is (A.J’s), which restaurant has the best appetizers (The Brick), how to get a discount at Blackbird (the mugs are worth it!), which boutique has the best sale rack (French Vill’edge), the best place to go exploring (Bartram), etc.
Over the past four years, Milly has been a huge part of my life and to say that I’m going to miss it is a cliche understatement. I could write an endless list of things that make Milly so special; describe my favorite stores downtown or my favorite restaurant or the best place to eno at the Greenway. All of these things do make Milly special.
But the most special thing about Milly is how quickly it became home.
It became home to me four years ago when I began to fall in love with its quaintness, with the local quirks. It became home when I met the friends who I now consider my family. It became home so quickly because there is something about Milly that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Over the past four years, I changed more than I thought possible, but Milly was still always home.
On my last night in town, my roommates and I, who I met in my first week of school four years ago, walked through Georgia College’s campus one last time. It was no longer bustling with students and professors. It was quiet. For the first time, we walked through campus and did not lay eyes on another person. It had never seemed more beautiful. I pictured all the times, and there were many, that I walked on campus never thinking that it would be the last time. I wondered how many times I ignored its beauty because I walked to class with my head down and my headphones in.
As we walked downtown, I wondered how many times I had stopped in Blackbird for a caffeine pick-me-up, how many times I had gone out of my way to satisfy my Barberitos craving, how many times I had walked down the crowded, lit up sidewalks at 2 in the morning after a night out.
I never thought it would be the last time. Four years is not nearly enough.
Milly will always be an important part of my story. Although I don’t live there anymore, Milly will always be home. I know I’ll be back soon enough.