Monday, July 13, 2009

Sentimental Journey

I had the occasion to drive from the north of town to the south of town this weekend, and it made me a bit misty and reflective, thinking about all that's changed since I moved here. I was thinking about the days when the Man and I were not yet married, and we used to carpool together from Decatur to Sandy Springs, which seemed, at the time, a crazy commute, but that's just because we had just moved from St. Augustine, Fl, where the biggest impediments to getting to work on time were a)getting stuck behind a horse, and b)the bridge being up. Twelve years later, we're seasoned Atlantans, and a 30 minute commute seems like child's play.

I was thinking about Decatur, and how proud I am of that little town and how far it's come since I moved here, because Decatur is pretty much my center of operations, being the location of my church, bank, and favorite local haunts. (Not to mention it's cool enough to have been referred to as "the intersection of Berkeley and Mayberry".) But then I approached the downtown skyline, and noticed that the Westin building seems to still have some issues with windows. I heard somewhere that the windows had proved difficult to replace after they blew off in a tornado. I, personally, think the building looks charming, like a snaggle-toothed six year old, and adds to the personality of the skyline.

While I was trying to remember when that tornado was, and looking at the skyline, I got this weird flood of memories of downtown...walking briskly uphill from the parking lot to the Fox Theater with friends, laughing because we were out of breath; driving around trying to find restaurants (more than once) where I was supposed to be meeting the owner; going to the Tabernacle/House of Blues for concerts; going to Fairlie Poplar for an arts festival; seeing the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the High with my mother, driving the wrong way out of a parking lot quite by accident and coming terrifyingly close to a wreck, only to realize that I'd also completely avoided the parking charges that way. Just a bunch of snips and snaps of pictures of times spent down there, over the years, and it occurred to me that this is pretty much my home town now.

It's weird, because my family moved around a lot when I was growing up, and I don't really lay claim to a "home town". I was born in Gainesville, Florida, lived in Jacksonville, but also lived in Massachusetts, and then in Orlando. Orlando is the closest I come to a home town- I was there for all of high school, and lived there for part of my adulthood as well. But by now, I've lived the longest here in Atlanta.

The funny thing is, if you ask me why I live here, I can give you a long list of reasons, many of them cultural. I love the fact that we have a symphony, an opera, a great museum, arts festivals, music festivals... an embarrassment of riches, culturally speaking. The Man and I used to seek out opportunities, but we haven't been to any of those places in a really long time. The closest I've come to culture, recently, is the Center for Puppetry Arts, an abbreviated version of The Nutcracker at the Fox, and an abbreviated version of Suessical the Musical at the Woodruff Arts Center. These excursions were all field trips with the homeschooling group, because, frankly, since the arrival of Small One, we don't get around much anymore.

Funny how a trip from a far north suburb has got me thinking about all I'm missing. I have a renewed determination now to actually take advantage of the wonderful things this city offers, because I truly do love this place.

How about you? Do you love your city? Do you make the most of the opportunities around you, or do you, like me, take them for granted a little bit too much?

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