There are a lot of boring adult reasons why I’m moving, to be honest, and some not so boring ones: Male Counterpart and I are (finally) moving in together. I am super excited, as this means we won’t live forty minutes away from one another anymore. Plus, I’ll have a yard! I’m going to GROW THINGS. I’m going to NOT TAKE MY DOG DOWN FIVE FLIGHTS OF STEPS. I’m going to SEE WILDLIFE.
I’M GOING TO HAVE TRICK-OR-TREATERS!
But I am also really, really sad, because I absolutely love where I live now. Not my condo, exactly– it’s amazing, I won’t lie. Seriously. I’ve got giant built-in bookshelves a friend made for me, and a wooden swing hanging from the ceiling because this is what adulting is, and I have an amazing view and concrete floors. The building used to be the CDC way back in the 1950s, so we never ever lose power.
It’s a very cool space, and I’ll miss it, but to be honest, leaving my condo is only like, 30% of the reason I’m sad. The other 70% is that I’m sad to leave this part of Atlanta.
Now, let me be clear about something that might make this entire post seem a little ridiculous: I’m moving from Atlanta to…Atlanta. That’s right. I’m technically still within the city limits. I just will no longer be in the center of the city, like I have been for the last seven years. And that’s the part that’s getting to me.
Atlanta is the sort of place that you can move within the city and feel like you’re in a totally different state. There’s Buckhead, full of clubs and ladies who lunch and ritzy hotels. There’s Inman Park, all craftsman bungalows owned by wealthy hipsters. Bankhead, where you NEVER want to go, because it’s scary as hell. The West Side, which use to be scary as hell, but is soon going to be home to a giant park and already has all sorts of clever quaint restaurants. East Atlanta, land of bars with patios and tattoos. Old Fourth Ward, which is practically built from art installations and tacos. And then there’s Midtown, which is where I’ve lived.
Midtown is the gay district in Atlanta, though plenty of people have complained that it’s losing that distinction. Still, there are rainbow flags everywhere you look. The Pride parade marches right down my street– as does the St. Patrick’s Day parade and the Christmas parade. The Pride parade is the best one, of course, because it involves fabulous floats blasting Lady Gaga music and, one memorable year, a giant awesome foam machine on a float full of men wearing leather.
There are restaurants– mostly inexpensive, locally owned ones. Midtown has Piedmont Park, which is the city’s main park– the lake is actually stocked, so people fish in it. The park has art festivals, food festivals, and concerts; it’s where I saw Paul McCartney perform live, and if I open my windows, I can hear music if it’s a particularly loud show (looking at you, Lorde). There are hotels and dessert places and sidewalks everywhere.
And then there’s the stuff that a realtor might not know to tell you. There’s that weird hobo that dresses like a king– I’m not kidding– and walks around as if he isn’t wearing a crown and a cape. There are street musicians around here, usually a trumpet player, but occasionally a sax player and, recently, a Mongolian throat singer. There’s an art installation near my house that’s literally a rock that spins, and I think it’s just the greatest thing. There’s a guy who walks down the street every week or so, dressed in drag and twirling a baton. Recently they’ve put up all these gazebos made of yarn, and a hardware store opened up. There’s often stencil art on the sidewalks, and the Midtown Alliance just built a little racquetball court in an empty lot.
My neighborhood is full of people like me– adult former-quasi-hipster artsy types who drink bubble tea but still get home from the poetry slam at a reasonable hour. We’re arrogant and insufferable, and we don’t care because whatever, you can’t even drive very well here, much less live here, so HA. We know all the details about what buildings are going in where, and who the head chef at the new restaurant is, and what times the streets will be closed for that block party that’s taking over the city for the afternoon. When we go to a restaurant or gym or nail salon and they ask “Do you need your parking validated?” we snort and say “Uh, no, I walked over” because as if we would drive. We live right around the corner!
(Seriously, we’re the worst.)
What I’m getting at is: Midtown is weird. It is the weirdest, best place in Atlanta, which is also the weirdest, best place.
When I first realized it was time to move out of my condo, I kept saying “I want to move somewhere where I can walk to things.” I kept thinking that was what made my neighborhood so great– how I could basically fall out my door and eat dinner or get groceries or workout or order coffee. So, for about a month, Male Counterpart and I focused on places where I’d be able to walk to things. There were only a handful that both allowed me to walk to things, and didn’t leave him driving two hours to get to work in the morning.
I didn’t like them.
Even when they had everything we were looking for, including that oh-so-coveted-walkability, I didn’t like them. Because, I realized, I wasn’t actually looking for someplace where I could walk to the grocery store. I was looking for my neighborhood, somewhere else. I didn’t want a nearby Publix– I wanted the guy dressed as the hobo king and the popsicle cart and the stenciled koi on the sidewalk.
Some of you reading this may have never been in love with a place before. To be fair, there’s only one place I ever remembering loving the way I love Atlanta– when I was ten, we lived in Columbus, Georgia for a while. I was a baby redneck at the time, with a very pronounced Southern drawl, red mud stains on all my clothing, and a love for my weird little neighborhood of muscadine grapes and white-tailed deer.
But we moved, and because I was ten years old, I didn’t have much say in the matter. I think that made it easier.
Now, however, I’m an adult, which means I’m choosing to leave my magical land of crazy kings and spinning rocks. And even though I keep reminding myself that I’ll have a yard and wildlife and trick-or-treaters, I am still, at times, overwhelmed with how much I love this city, and how much I’ll miss this particular part of it.
I love Atlanta. I want to bite the buildings, to sink my hands in the asphalt like it’s dough or moving water.
And I am leaving it– sort of kind of a little. I’m leaving this part of Atlanta, the part that’s ever changing and has the racquetball court and the guy dressed as the king and Baton Bob. I’ll live so ridiculously close by, and I’ll come here often, but I know it won’t quite be the same.
It’s for the best– really. I am excited and happy and looking forward to it.
Did I mention trick-or-treaters?
But seriously, Atlanta. I just really love you.