The Atlanta I Love.

I’ve been in love with Atlanta since I was probably five years old.

Something about the skyline driving through to Braves games or the combination of road-side farmers stands and urban graffiti. I have always loved the eclectic southern-ness of Atlanta and it was a beacon of “the good life” for me since I was a teenager.

“Man, if I live in Atlanta when I grow up — I will be the HAPPIEST,” I thought and wrote in my diary probably 50 times from 2001 to 2010.

I couldn’t wait to be able to go to The Ted on any given day of the week, read the AJC on the reg and officially be considered a peach state resident. Strange aspirations maybe, but they were all tokens of the city that I obsessed about.

I had and have been to other cities of course; but Atlanta has always been magical to me.

Growing up I would tell anyone who would listen about how one day I would probably be VP of Communications for the Braves and if not that maybe I would work at CNN. Lofty ambitions, but life is funny. And great sometimes.

You can imagine what people said when I announced four months ago that I was moving here. It was the smallest surprise of the year. Half the people I told thought that I already lived here.

Now, I live here.

Every day.

I don’t think I’m a bonafide Atlantan yet by any means. I DO have a Marta card; but I’ve never been to a number of the local institutions like Manuel’s or the Landmark. I’ve yet to really run very far on the Beltline and I’m not sure I could find my way around on the west side of I-75. I have no idea what the best restaurants are in Decatur and I haven’t been to a single festival yet. There is a lot to still see and experience on my “Atlanta To-Do List.” In fact, I probably need to create an actual list.

Related: If you live in Atlanta and have suggestions on what earns me my Atlantan certificate. Please advise.

But now on any given Tuesday I can go to Braves games, explore new restaurants, neighborhoods and museums.

Atlanta is home.

And I love Atlanta.

The trails. The parks. The history. The culture. The diversity. The food scene. The music. The access to hiking, swimming, home, friends and family.

There are so few things that could improve this city for me. (Aside from much improved public transportation. That’s it.)

But I found an Atlanta that I loved even more when Andy visited last week.

It wasn’t in a specific place or an activity. We had:

  • normal nights at home
  • tacos at Superica
  • drinks on the Beltline
  • King of Pops shade breaks
  • hikes on Stone Mountain
  • tent time at Lake Lanier
  • tomahawk chopping at Turner Field
  • picnics at Piedmont Park
  • meanderings downtown
  • sightings at MLK’s childhood home
  • lots of neighborhood explorations

It was a normal week of me trying to share why I loved this city so much.

Since moving here, it has been so fun–but I promise you that each exploration was paired with “I wonder what Andy would think of this?” or an “I can’t wait to show this to Andy when he visits.”

Can you imagine how lovely it was to just adventure and have him there to talk about it?

It was the BEST Atlanta yet.

Turns out when you combine the city you love + the person you love, it results in the BEST days. But, not to cheese ball, basically Andy and I always have the best time regardless of what city we’re set in.

I was pretty close to right at 14 years old when I thought that living in Atlanta would be the end-all to pure happiness.

But this week I saw a side of an even sweeter Atlanta that I hadn’t quite experienced yet–and oh boy, I cannot wait to visit that place again.

In the meantime, I get to keep exploring. I get to keep finding new reasons that Atlanta is my favorite. More parks to venture into and more neighborhoods to wander. More days to learn about myself in a city that–over the years–has been integral to my figuring out who I am.

While I really wish Andy was coming back tomorrow or that my trip to Portland started Wednesday instead of three weeks from now–I have Atlanta. And if I have to be patient for the day that we get to make a city ours, I’m positive that 95-degree heat, 80-percent humidity, and all, I wouldn’t take any other place while I wait.

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Weekend Warriors: Favorite city + Favorite people + Favorite Sports Team.

I grew up in a corner of North Carolina where “Christmas shopping in the city,” or “summer baseball game,” or “weekend at the amusement park,” or even “day trip to get out of dodge” meant taking the winding 2.5-hour drive through the mountains and Georgia foothills to Atlanta.

Most of the trip is a peaceful four-lane road past dairy bars and pastures; however, about 30 minutes before you hit the city the roads widen, the traffic becomes more plentiful and as soon as you cross under the giant maze of bridges (which I discovered was the ‘perimeter’ as I got older), well, then you’re in Atlanta.

Seeing those tall buildings and soaking in the amount of sunshine has always been home away from home for me.

My family would make the trip every couple of months and I feel like I’ve spent many a mile-marker in Fulton and Gwinett counties; birthdays and vacations included.

It was the place I always swore I’d move to when I graduated college and it’s the reason why UGA was my first choice when the time came to apply.

Life happens. You get scholarships and choose an in-state school. You start dating a guy and move to a different Carolina town.

And instead, you visit Atlanta every chance you get.

And every time you visit you’re reminded of how “one day I could totally see myself living here.”

This weekend marked the second annual road trip of high-school best friends from North Carolina through South Carolina to Georgia. We remarked on the trip down how it had been a long time. I mean, sixth grade–when we all met? Well that was almost 15 years ago.  (Insert nostalgic photo of awkward 11-year-olds with braces and baby faces that is probably laying around my parents’ house.)

Best-friend kind of love.

Gigantic Braves fans, a game is always useful motivation to plan a weekend. So a Travelzoo deal later we were south-bound early Saturday morning.

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The lesser-known, well liked #10 of the @braves. #CJonesRespect

Saturday of all Saturdays, we had tickets for THE GAME. The Braves had been on a wild sweep of 14-straight wins. If the team won Saturday night’s game they would have tied the franchise’s longest streak since 2000 when the Braves won 15 in a row from April to May.

So, of course — we figured they would lose. (We weren’t very confident in the luck we were bringing.)

A fairly short road trip into Atlanta, a customary stop for burgers at The Varsity, a meandering through Centennial Park and the World of Coke gift shop and we were off to the field for a preliminary afternoon of extremely hot tailgating. Man, I’m just not quite accustomed to that heat or humidity.

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The Varsity “Whatya have, whatya have, whatya have.” Um, all the onion rings please.

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These kids are funny.

Our seats were a DREAM. Suite life, baby. I’m not sure if going to a Braves game will ever be the same after seeing one from the bounty of air-conditioning and private bathroom. That said, I would maybe trade for some field-side seats. All the same, it was incredible. Especially considering that there was an hour rain delay. Nothing like dry seats.

J-Hey Kid at bat.

Once the game started up, it was a little bit of a snoozer (three hits up to the 8th inning!) and then a half hour of INTENSITY.

The Braves let up one run to the Marlins off of some sloppy defense and the stadium was erupting in rapture and cheering for an offensive answer once the Braves came up to bat.

We cheered for a single like it was a home run.

Me + current/former roommate. ❤

Three outs and Janish who stepped up to bat, noted has a .000 batting average, stuck out. Looking. Against the worst team in our division.

Sad ending to a 14-game winning streak.

It was humorous to see the onslaught of “You’re not allowed to go to Braves games when they’re on a streak” messages that were sent to us from various friends and family members.

Me + Derek + Brooke + Bradley. Wouldn’t have been the same with any other three.

The game went so late that by the time we got back to our hotel there wasn’t a lot of time to deliberate if and when we wanted to go out to a bar. Luckily we had found a really fun, random karaoke bar, Metro Café Diner, last summer that just happened to be down the street. On the way there, we passed 50 Cent’s truck from Fast Five. Interesting. So we went straight to aforementioned bar and proceeded to stay for three hours drinking Shandy beer and belting karaoke with other downtown-Atlanta strangers. It was of course followed up by a 3 a.m. trip to Waffle House. (Of course.)

What felt like only a nap later and we were back on the road to the Carolinas, smiling wildly at the adventures and fun that we had shared in a cram-packed weekend.

I was left realizing it may be a while before I get to see Atlanta again, so I took a good long look as we drove away. See you again as soon as I can, ATL. I promise.

Savannah Summer Kick-Off (Delayed).

I remember when I would be on summer break from school as soon as I had seen the first week of break end, the reality would hit that I only had a FEW weeks and I needed to savor it before school crept back onto the calendar. I would do the silent week tally in my head with each passing weekend. And I always dreaded the “halfway mark” just simply because then it became a literal countdown. You had less time left than you had already spent.

I do the same thing when I’m on vacation.

“Oh no, it’s Wednesday. We only have half of the trip left. Bummer.”

I’m weird. I need to not start focusing so quickly on what’s happening weeks ahead––but it’s just my nature.

So in the meantime, I try to take advantage of appreciating what’s happened so far this summer and make sure that I keep enjoying every second of sunshine in the meantime that I can.

This summer has been crazy. Crazy busy. Crazy unexpected. And crazy fast!

It seems just like yesterday that we were spending Memorial Day at the pool being lazy and playing water volleyball. Making new friends. And looking forward to three full months of post-work and weekend recreation.

That said, I realize now the “summer things” that I’ve meant to post about are getting further and further in the rear-view mirror. Have to post! I’ll try to do all my catch-ups this week and first give you a picture of the (surprisingly) only vacation yet this summer!

SAVANNAH.

A reunion three years in the making with some of my closest girl friends from being a sister of Alpha Omicron Pi. Aren’t we presh? It is no small feat to stay mediocrely cute when it’s 98% humidity, just saying.

 

These girls came into my life my junior year in college. I was already flexing my usual overachiever ways by taking full honors class loads (I think I was still a triple major at the time, man I’m a nerd) on top of some reporting internships and working as an editor on the college newspaper. Teaching children’s church at Cornerstone Summit. But, that wasn’t enough, duh.

So I decided to join the group of ladies colonizing a new fraternity at Appalachian State.

My perception had been that girls in Greek life lived for their organization. I already had a life. I was a busy girl with a lot of focus on doing what I needed to do to graduate successfully, get a good job, spend time with good friends that I already had. But I had room for more.

Joining the colonization of AOII at our campus was one of my best decisions. These ladies were dedicated to the values and principles of our organization (which were values I already held dear), but what made us so strong was that all of us were like me: we all things we were focused on fostering outside of Greek life too. In the photo below you have amazing academics, incredible musicians, wonderful teachers, smart businesswomen and marketers, writers and advertisers. Yeah, all in one photo : ) We weren’t all buttoned-up and professional all weekend though.

Coming from all over the East, and having not seen each other in 3 years, meant that there was a lot to catch up on. We traveled to Savannah, Ga. from all over. A handful from all over North Carolina, one from Nebraska, one from Connecticut and one from Florida. Dedication.

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There was celebrating. (An engagement! A graduation! A birthday! And a lot of other upcoming life changes to celebrate.)

There was sightseeing.

And beaching.  (Aren’t our visors super fly?)

Some sororities have bigs & littles. Well, AOII does too. But since we colonized we had to have twins instead. Here’s me and mine, Brandie. So special. Out of (I think) around 50 (i think? omg, how big was our colonizing class….now I don’t know…) girls, we picked each other. Handing in a piece of paper with the name of our twin preference. Yup, I picked her. She picked me. Soul mates.

LOTS of eating. (And some drinking, maybe.)

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There was running. (Yup, this is from that last run. Sad times.) And morning coffees.

And consequentially, there was embracing the “no make-up” moments. (So nice to have friends who understand the need to run on vacation!)

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There was a lot of smiling.

Whole lot of smiling.

And even more laughing.

But, I guess at the end of the day — it was just a lot of love : )

Later this week, I’ll make sure to share about how awesome Winston-Salem is in the summer; how some of us really know how to throw a kickin’ baby shower; how Brooke and I are experts at country music concerts and how I feel like I am living every day of the past few months to it’s very, very fullest.