A gentle way to ease back into this blog would be a conversational post about what I did today in the sometimes-great city of Atlanta. So that’s what I think I will do.
It works much better than an angst-ridden post about the various emotional travails that have kept me away from writing for a year. It’s also more on-topic!
I woke up at 7am today, early for me, in the beautiful 100-year-old home I share with my partner in the historic Washington Park neighborhood two miles west of downtown Atlanta. After a few brief, low-maintenance ablutions, I headed out on foot toward the nearest MARTA train station, a refreshing 10-minute walk through the increasingly less blighted neighborhood I’ve lived in for almost a decade. House renovations and razings flare every few months, and I expect our Beltline-adjacent community will be scrubbed clean within a few years, both for better and for worse.
I waited several minutes on a sketchy train platform, as I do every morning, then boarded the train for a quick ride into the heart of downtown. Since last night, I had felt the siren call of Dunkin’ coffee, so I made a small detour from my daily routine by indulging my weekly routine of foregoing the perfectly fine coffee I have waiting for me at my destination. I take the train one station north from downtown, then debark to board one of the longest escalators in the nation up to the street, where Dunkin’ coffee, along with an egg-and-cheese English muffin, waits for me half a block away. I then complete my morning walk back to the heart of downtown. There I own a tiny condo, situated in another hundred-year-old building (this one used to be a bank), which is the height of irony.
Irony because Atlanta is notoriously devoid of historic buildings other than the Margaret Mitchell House. Double irony because I am notoriously devoid of affection for anything old or traditional. I like shiny new things, and only the most contrived of cosmic circumstances would place me in these two ancient abodes.
I went under contract for the condo during the pandemic shutdown–it was originally a crash pad indulgence, but it quickly became my lifeline and my home office. I have been able to commute to work every day for the past two years while my company has remained remote.
Getting back to my day: I worked from 8am to 1pm at the condo. I’ll spare you both the hair-raising thrills of staring at a laptop screen and doing accounting work, and the entreaties of my feline companion Mister Amir, and skip to my afternoon out on the town.
I retraced my morning steps back to the Peachtree Center MARTA station, because I needed to run the first part of a work errand at the FedEx Office across the street from the Dunkin’. I then rode up to Buckhead, and walked over to On The Border, where I settled in for a rare full-service lunch of chicken fajitas. The justification: my work errand involved prepping and mailing several letters at the nearby post office. After lunch and the post office, I still had a couple of hours left in my workday, so I walked a few blocks over to Caribou Coffee and worked out the rest of my day amid the haughty busy-ness of the other urban cafe hounds. Then I hopped on the train again and went home.
So what’s the point? After all, you didn’t ask my how my day went, and I seem to have become that friend that tells you anyway.
The purpose is to show Atlanta in all its mundane glory. My typical day is mostly back-and-forth between the two home bases, and there’s not much “Atlanta” there. Today, however, I interacted, in my way, with the city, Here’s my takeaways, and presumably yours.
- Atlanta has a lot of chains. I visited four businesses, and they were all corporate chains. This is not just an Atlanta thing; it’s also a personal issue–I’m a control freak, and I crave standardized chain experiences. This is a trait I’m working to improve, because Atlanta is also home to many wonderful independent retailers. Don’t judge me.
- I had zero noteworthy human interactions. I didn’t filter out my interesting conversations with strangers, because those things didn’t happen. I spoke with a server, a post office employee, and a barista. Two of my retail interactions were entirely self-serve. The lack of interactions is also a personal, introvert thing.
- What I did omit was the backdrop of homeless people. Because I live in the middle of the city, they are everywhere. I only needed to turn down one person asking for money today. I almost always need to turn them down because I don’t carry cash. Yesterday, I bought a Reese’s for a guy, per his request, sitting outside the Walgreens. Observing homelessness and rampant mental illness on the streets and the trains is a stressful part of my world, but it’s the world I chose. You want the big city, you get all the trappings.
- That aside, and that’s a big thing to place aside, it was a pleasant, peaceful, coexisting kind of day, and I just wanted to share.
It’s good to be back. I’ll work on sharpening my observational wit and meet you back here next time.