In August, I took a big leap and left the familiar landscapes of the Midwest for the wooded neighborhoods and often gridlocked streets of Atlanta, Georgia.
I accepted a job to cover Atlanta Public Schools and join the education team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I packed the contents of my 1,200-square-foot Toledo loft into a suburban Atlanta apartment half that size. I signed a short-term lease and in addition to learning my new beat, am trying to figure out where to live in this sprawling city — threaded with unique neighborhoods but choked with traffic.
I’m getting to know a new place, culture, and people. I’m learning southern words (hants as a synonym for ghosts), exploring the international cuisine of Buford Highway, leaving an hour early to drive ten miles, and adjusting to being called ma’am (and facing rebukes from some southerners when I confess I find the courtesy title slightly off-putting).
I had no idea Atlanta was so hilly (it is just a couple hours from the Appalachian Mountains and on the piedmont after all, from whence our best park is named.)
I had no idea it was so forested.
I had no idea that one needed a Target, Home Depot, and a Publix every couple of miles.
Soon after moving here, I came across this description of the city by W. E. B. Du Bois. It’s lovely and fitting and makes me eager to get to know this new place.
SOUTH of the North, yet north of the South, lies the City of a Hundred Hills, peering out from the shadows of the past into the promise of the future. I have seen her in the morning, when the first flush of day had half-roused her; she lay gray and still on the crimson soil of Georgia; then the blue smoke began to curl from her chimneys, the tinkle of bell and scream of whistle broke the silence, the rattle and roar of busy life slowly gathered and swelled, until the seething whirl of the city seemed a strange thing in a sleepy land.
W. E. B. Du Bois