Thursday, April 1, 2010
Atlanta... I see you
Atlanta it is.
I don’t ask what I’m doing here.
I know how I got here.
I even know for how long I’m staying.
Shabby, grungy, slightly dark and perhaps faded... these are things I expected to encounter. (Please don’t ask me where I got this image… damn T.V spoils the brain.) However, I was completely mistaken in my ignorant perception. There was so much in Atlanta that caught my attention I couldn’t stop from taking pictures and walking the streets, studying the structures, tasting the variety of foods, and just breathing in the city. I was, quite simply, swept off my feet by the sights, the sounds, the smells… it was all startlingly magnetic.
I was surprised, but not fazed, that things were not at all the way I pictured them. Though every city has its darkest most questionable corners you wouldn’t even think to cross by mistake, I hardly hesitated to walk into unfamiliar territory. To the contrary, there was a thrilling sense of discovery urging me onward with every step I took. It wasn’t enough to be told what I would find ahead. I had to know what was behind that building, had to see what I would find in the next street, had to view what there was beyond each park. Then suddenly, like some superabsorbent sponge, I started taking in all the details surrounding me: the cold biting through my clothes, the warm sunlight beaming from between the buildings, the sharp fresh air hitting my lungs like a shot of rum, the cars zipping down the street too fast to survive crossing, the faces of those walking by me on the wide sidewalks… Faces, that’s one of the things that stood out the most.
The pace in this city wasn’t so rushed you couldn’t even remember who was standing next to you in a two-hour-waiting-line. I constantly found myself wondering about the people I came across, even in the briefest of terms. It wasn’t like a sudden curiosity to know the statistical body count of the inhabitants in the metropolis area. No, nothing so detached. It was more… personal. There was just so much to discern from each person: unknown mannerisms, amused thoughts, concerned expressions, bored eyes, hesitant hands… Each time a person drew my attention, I wondered about their aspirations, what they were working so hard for, who they had to go home to every day… I remember the considerate taxi driver taking me to the airport, the shy elder woman placing my order at the bakery, the young lady fixing my reservation at the hotel, the waiter with a starling young expression, the stranger asking for food at the church, and the men sleeping on the ground in the park. So many people, that in any other place might have actually remained faceless.
But in Atlanta, it felt like I could see it all. There was a sense of unpredictability in the atmosphere, like you can step outside and anything is possible. Impatience didn’t make people scurry from one end of the city to the other in obvious intolerance. One can really SEE the people that keep the city alive and moving. Combined with an open and inviting ambiance, as though the city were exposed to me, I was overwhelmed. And it was well worth it, to be proven wrong.
I wouldn’t have asked what I was doing there.
I knew how I got there.
I even know how long I stayed.
Atlanta it was.