An Issue of Intimacy

Nomad. Vagabond. Departer. Drifter. Emigrant. Migrator. Mover. Transient. Wanderer.

Throw in “expatriate” and “gypsy” (if only because I believe that Van Morrison was singing directly to me in “Into The Mystic” when he described my ‘gypsy soul’,) and it’s me in a nutshell. Prone to the “Grass is Always Greener” syndrome, I find myself longing – and looking – for more, never really settling into where am nor what I’m doing. Weary of mind, weary of spirit, I find myself constantly looking ahead. Until now, when – while both weary in mind and spirit, believe you me – I’m looking back.

I moved to Atlanta on a whim. One day, planning my strategic route to the grocery store and growing fatigued at the requisite “Who do you work for” question that comes inherent with living in DC got to be too much. I wanted to drive my (then) new car around town without nearly getting blindsided by four errant cabs and hitting a self-aggrandized congressman who was too busy picking lint off of his Brooks Brothers suit to watch the traffic signals. I wanted to trade in the old, the charming, the historic for the New South, the glitz and glamour that surely Atlanta offered. And one trip down here was all it took.

I came to visit my two college friends and a weekend of debauchery ensued. I don’t know if it was my smittenness with the night scene, the electricity that then-Buckhead offered, or the bevy of attractive guys with voices so sugary and Southern that their vernacular dripped like honey, warmed by the sun of an Indian Summer afternoon, but whatever it was, I was captivated.

I applied for jobs immediately upon return, and given that it was still the Internet boom, got a few responses in not days, but hours. Within 6 weeks, I was bidding DC goodbye with nary a tear nor a look back. I was ready.

Since then, Atlanta has been much to me. A home base when I traveled, a true home when less transient, a source of pride, even, when catching up with High School friends who never strayed far from the metropolis that is Westlake, Ohio. I can feign the cosmopolitan facade all I want, playing up how WARM and how WONDERFUL this town is, yet, at the end of the day, the facade often crumbles.

Atlanta itself is a mishmash town, stuck smack dab in northwestern Georgia, with nary a true body of water within at least three hours. (And no, Lake Lanier does NOT count.) Post-Civil War Atlanta became known as the center of the Southern restoration and has had its fair share of history, not the least of which being the birthplace of both Martin Luther King and Margaret Mitchell. Yet it’s a nomad’s dream, as very few of its over 4.5 million residents are actually from here. It’s lost a true, unified culture, and the personality is flailing, at best. As such, I find its charm a bit weary and often find myself longing for more.

It’s ironic – the very things that made me leave DC are the things that make me long for a different city than the one in which I currently reside. While I don’t miss the political infiltration that can smother you come campaign-time, I miss the accessibility of DC, the charm, the history. I miss the intimacy. For all that Atlanta is and all that it offers, it falls short in the areas that it needs most – charm. Somewhere between the influx of people and the urban expansion, we’ve lost the around-the-corner coffee shops bearing names other than the neon glow of Starbucks, we’ve lost our Mom & Pop diners, and we’ve lost the hustle and bustle of a city on the go. Attribute it to the Southern Way if you must, but in many ways, Atlanta has lost its lustre.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, though I doubt it, but I’m finding myself tired of the routine. I know where most people will be on any given night, and though I do love the music scene and do love the weather and do love the Peachtree Road Race and do love my house and do love my friends, I long for the the water. I crave that sleepy, lackadaisical feel that towns like Savannah and Charleston provide in bulk. I yearn for streetlamps and Spanish moss and unpretension and even miss the sandwiches at Booey’s in DC. I’m happy here – I love my job, love my house & friends – but there’s the part of me that feels like I’m being somehow a fraud.

We have free will, and all, and I suppose I could again heed the call of the nomad, the song of mystery and opportunity and excitement that blows though my trees every so often, but I feel stuck. Stagnant. There’s nothing keeping me here (besides the job, that is), but nothing taking me away. I’m untethered yet bound by convenience.

8 thoughts on “An Issue of Intimacy

  1. I have lived in the same place for the past 25 1/2 years and I have always urned to go be somewhere else, thinking that life may be better for me out there, but I was always to afraid and to attached to leave. I envy you Aubrey, I wish I had the guts, the courage or whatever you have that makes you want to move from place to place, changing the routine every once in a while. I always seem to get caught up in the whole “Grass is always Greener” concept, but we both know it’s not true. However, Aubrey that is no reason for one to limit themselves to a life of routine and lack of something they hold true to their hearts. If you feel the need to move, but feel your missing that something to give you the push, I suggest you close your eyes, hold out your hands grasp at it, before it passes you by.

  2. I agree that Atlanta can seem somewhat of a hodge podge, but being an Atlanta native I have to protest that there are still mom and pop places around and tons of charm and quirks to boot…ya just got to look….where else does everyone know who blondy is or wonder what is up with the guy on ponce with the white spandex.

  3. Come on Aubs, what do you call Moe’s & Joe’s? Certainly not corporate America. But I know what you are saying and have felt the same thing. The problem is 90% of the “metro” (somehow that never seems like a word that one should use with Atlanta) lives in subdivision spawzilla OTP. The other 10% lives in a shell of a city that suffered decades of neglect.
    It’s turning around though… it will take time but a new Atlanta is growing and those of us who are here now get to help define it.
    Sure it is great to go to that corner neighborhood hangout that has been there forever in other cities but here, you can be one of the original cast of odd characters that gave the place its rep as a cool place.

  4. first time poster, semi-long time reader
    thought 1:
    been here 3 years and the major downside of this city is also its major upside: in every area you would want a city to be its very good, but never great in one area
    example: the music scene – lots of great bands come here, but we really don’t have a ‘local’ music scene like detroit, la, ny, austin, etc.
    yet i seem to see a great live band or dj (large or small) almost every week or two
    thought 2:
    have you been to east atlana, any one of the bars and pubs – echo lounge, the earl?
    mjq?
    late night at crescent room?
    star bar?
    they are all fun places with unique people that have lots of personality
    thought 3:
    find a boy ms sabala that you normally wouldn’t date who does things you don’t normally do, you would kill two birds with one stone, even if its for a month 🙂

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