I am trying to get back on track with chronicling everything. We’re about a month behind at this point, so I’m planning to quickly try and bang these out so I can be up to date and writing from the present. Truth be told, I spent the last two weeks kind of falling in love and when that happens, writing tends to take a back seat.
After Athens, I hightailed it to Atlanta to stay with Corbin for a few nights. One of the best parts of being in the first big city since I’d left New York was finally catching Mad Max. And like, Mad Max in luxury. We are talking fancy soda machines, plush, reclining seats, loveseat style options, etc. But, really, that movie, tho. Goddamn. It's up there as one of my favorites for the year and further cements my Charlize Theron girl crush.
The Atlanta Highlight Reel:
- Watching Women's World Cup soccer with Corbin, complete with him straight up Supermanning into a USWNT jersey at the bar.
- Finally seeing Meka Clark (or Meka Sanders…or Meka Clark Sanders) after way too many years. This girl and I worked next to each other at TPG-Axon for, I don’t know, maybe a year, maybe more, but it felt like much longer. We had a strong bond and she was my heart. Meka and her family moved down to Atlanta about four years ago so she could get her PharmD in Clinical Pharmacology at Mercer College and she just graduated. We had a totally delicious lunch, followed by a goddamn outrageous ice cream cone (www.http://butterandcream.com/ - this place is a must visit, y’all) that couldn’t wait to melt all over my hands in that hot Atlanta afternoon. And then I got to hang out with her kids. These kids are special to me. Not because I know them very well or even because Meka and I are as close as we once were. It’s because I sat directly to Meka’s right, 45 hours a week for all of her first pregnancy with Mikayla and it is real weird what that does to bond you to a child. By the time she was pregnant again with Mark Preston, our desk seating situation had changed, but I still felt connected to him. I hadn’t seen these kids since they left New York (Mikayla was a little over two and Mark Preston was just about eight months) and I did everything I could not to be all “the last time I saw you, you were so little!!!” because, really, we all hated that. But, it was great - they are little people now and they have amazing personalities and they made me laugh and my heart swell. Hanging out with those kids, even though it was only for less than an hour, was the highlight of my trip to Atlanta.
- The diversity of Atlanta. I am not trying to belittle or glance over issues here, but is this place Utopia? Meka told me that inside the perimeter (the highway loop around downtown) it’s much more of a melting pot of folks than in the suburbs where it tends to be more segregated, but I was IN LOVE with how all kinds of folks were hanging out everywhere together. It felt so much more human. I know this might come across as flippant, but I haven't ever even seen this in New York, which I consider to be one of the most diverse cities in the country. I was only there for a day and that is not even close to being long enough to get a good idea of this kind of thing, but from the breakfast spots to the bars I visited to just walking around, it was hard not to notice everyone just being together.
- Lola’s Jam at Northside Tavern (http://www.northsidetavern.com). I stumbled across this place while trying to find parking at Corbin’s apartment and decided to check it out later that night. It’s been around since the 1950s or 60s and is a go-to for the local blues scene. On Monday’s, Lola Gulley leads her band for a set or two and then they have an open list for local musicians to sign up to play with the band. I was talking to a guy at the bar and he never misses a Monday night. Apparently most music venues are dark on Mondays so all of the talented players in Atlanta come out to sit in with Lola and her band. It can be hit or miss, but, when it hits, you can see some monster blues musicians jam just 20 feet from your bar stool. It was more miss than hit that night, but Lola and her band were incredible, the Buffalo Trace pours were huge and cheap, and the vibe of that place made me want to come back again.
- The goddamn Clermont Lounge (http://www.clermontlounge.net/). I was told of this place back in Athens as a can’t-miss spot. It is Atlanta’s first and longest continually operated strip club. Or, if we’re being proper here, adult entertainment venue. I just looked up the wikipedia entry for this place to get some of the facts straight and I feel obliged to include this gorgeous tidbit: “The Clermont is perhaps best known for featuring some dancers who do not meet the traditional physical standards for strippers, the most famous of whom is Blondie, noted for her ability to crush empty beer cans between her breasts as well as for her poetry.” Unfortunately, Corbin and I didn’t get to see Blondie, but I was wildly impressed with some of the feats of naked acrobatics we saw.
For one reason or another, I’d always had a bad opinion of Atlanta, but I ended up liking it so way more than I expected. I wish I had more time there to explore, but who knows - maybe I’ll come spend a little time here later on and see how it suites me.