(atlanta) the city I call home

the city I call home has
a terrible nickname: hotlanta.
like all slang, it was popularized
by white people who genuinely
thought it was cool long after it wasn’t.

the city I call home has
streets all named peachtree
which intersect a sprawling grid
that defies logic in its layout,
confusing drivers & bikers alike.

the city I call home has
the best parts of the deep south
(soul food, whiskey bars, & friendly residents)
without (as many) willfully ignorant people
outside the bourgey neighborhoods.

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returning (to reality)

reality sinks in after waking up
to your alarm’s incessant chiming
in the city you call home,
instead of one you’d never been —
where the air is salty & waves wash
seaweed & seashells onto the shore.

thirteen things no one tells you (& you learn for yourself)

1. you should strive to be good, not unique. (contrary to their name, special snowflakes are everywhere. genuine people aren’t.)
2. once you discover that home is a feeling, not a location, your restlessness dissipates. (you won’t find a reason to plan your next escape.)
3. when you fall in love, your badass armor will crumble. (you will embrace your softness.)
4. it is okay that your parents like you less as each day passes. (they hate everything about you that doesn’t fit their idea of who you should be.)
5. trust your first impressions of everyone you meet. (your bullshit detector gets better as you get older.)
6. do not let people bend your empathetic ear if they can’t reciprocate. (you’re no one’s crutch.)
7. you will tire of the friends who lament about missing you on social media yet don’t keep in touch. (letting them go is easier than you thought.)
8. when someone insults others in order to compliment you, you’re right to be disgusted. (& to decline the intended compliment.)
9. happiness isn’t a constant state. (even the best days have comparatively low points.)
10. your weekend ritual of binge drinking will get boring. (if it doesn’t, your abysmal hangover recovery time will deter you from continuing the tradition.)
11. everything turns out the way it should. (though you won’t see the reason immediately.)
12. you are resilient. (you will bounce back from disappointments quickly because you can’t afford to waste time dwelling.)
13. when you hold yourself (solely) to your own expectations, you will like the person you become. (you may even love her.)

the place called home

you fled the place where
you mastered the art of placating
unpredictable manipulators
& shielded siblings from shockwaves
made by emotional warfare.
you cannot miss the place where
you learned that obedience
took priority over your happiness
(independent thought was forbidden)
& you were berated into submission.
you found the place called home
within the people who helped you
discover that despite (years of)
being conditioned to think the contrary,
you deserve love (& support).

The best Christmas present I received.

The best Christmas present I received was that Ceddy came home a week and a half early.

While it was great to spend time with Raf and Brie for a few days, I limited interacting with our parents because of the drama they always bring. As kids (and out of habit as adults), my siblings and I learned to tiptoe around our volatile parents for fear of setting off one of their infamous fights. Historically, holidays have brought out the worst in their behavior. This year, I made it clear that I was there for my siblings and would make separate plans with my siblings if they continued to be horrible to me, so they behaved themselves (for the most part).

Yesterday, I felt bereft.

This year, the only holiday I looked forward to was Thanksgiving since I spent it with Ceddy. For the past couple of years, we haven’t gotten to spend Christmas together. I didn’t care as much about not getting to spend New Year’s Eve together last year, since going out in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve can be a logistical nightmare. Still, I couldn’t help but miss him even more than on a regular day.

As I assisted in preparing dinner, I got a couple texts from Ceddy. He was home. He wished me a merry Christmas and sent me a photo of his luggage in our living room. After hugging my siblings, I raced home. Though he got me cool souvenirs from his other travels, getting to snuggle together was my favorite gift.

In the South, college football is a religion.

In the South, college football is a religion.

Prior to going to UGA, I never followed sports. The sport I knew most about was basketball (in that I could watch a game and was generally aware of what was happening). But something happens when you’re a student and there’s a home football game.

Saturdays in Athens are sacred.

Before each game, 90,000 fans file into Sanford Stadium. After the Dawgs warm up, the crowd is silent. A solo trumpeter from the Redcoats marching band plays “The Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation.” As the trumpeter holds the last note, the crowd roars and the game begins.

On Saturday mornings during senior year, we pitched our Young Dems tailgating tent on north campus next to Sanford Stadium. We usually arrived around 8AM, when fellow fans were already firing up their grills and drinking beers. Guys wore red or black polos and slacks. Girls wore red, black, and white game day dresses. Students, alumni, and random fans who never went to UGA united to cheer on the Dawgs.

Andrea didn’t get to experience living in a college town, as she went to NYU. Still, she visited us several times a semester. Some people were surprised that she didn’t actually go to school with us, since she was always there for our biggest parties. That year, she was in town for the LSU game. The Dawgs lost that game, but we had one of our best tailgates — booze, food, and a vodka spiked watermelon. Andrea borrowed one of my dresses and we spent the morning drinking and dancing with Ames and our other friends.

Big sunglasses helped shield our eyes from the glaring sun and also hide the drunken progression.

Andrea, me, & Ames. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Andrea, me, & Ames. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

“Party in the USA” was our theme song that fall, so Andrea made sure to play it on loop.

Andrea blasting "Party in the USA" with a Dems blue party cup. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Andrea blasting “Party in the USA” with a Dems blue party cup. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Southern girls wear dresses to football games. Some people think it’s impractical. We call them haters.

Kate, Ames, Andrea, & me. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Me, Kate, Ames, & Andrea. Athens, Georgia. 10.03.09.

Hopefully, the Dawgs will prevail against the Gamecocks today, in spite of the fact we aren’t going to be there for the game. Go Dawgs!