Whenever I travel or go home, I am invariably asked how I like Atlanta. Every time, I respond with variations on vagary, generally offering the impression that I do not love the city, but I do like my life here. I do so because it is difficult for me to communicate through small talk all of the wonderful and awful things that have happened to me here, and to wrap them up into a judgement on the city itself.
The truth is that I love the life I have built for myself in Atlanta. Since my first visit here, my schedule every week revolves around the fixed point of Thursday night Bible study. My best friend’s brother and his wife host at their home, where between eight and twenty people gather for dinner, community, and a well-researched analysis of one chapter from whichever book of the Bible we are studying at the time. Afterward, we play games or Smash Bros., or just enjoy good conversation, often over a beer. I arrive early every week to help get the house ready, and that is usually where I write these posts.
When I moved here, I had a job lined up as a barista. I was at that job for about nine months, but I left in January of last year. Since then, I have worked every Friday cleaning my friends’ house, sold salsas and tamales at a farmers’ market in the summer, folded laundry for a family in the suburbs, and taken on freelance work for my dad. In my off times from those jobs, I workout, look for other jobs, and generally reevaluate my life. I also travel a bit, and I have had the privilege to host my friends and family in Atlanta.
Most importantly, I have nurtured a community of friends here. I hang out with various parts of that friend group weekly, and we usually keep one of the many Atlanta goings-on on our horizon. So far my favorite is Matilda’s, an art gallery and outdoor concert venue that hosts local artists. We took several bottles of wine, fancy snacks, and a few friends to see Blair Crimmins and the Hookers there, and thus found the formula for an excellent evening.
There were so many times in the past year that I felt tempted to see my move to Atlanta as a mistake. I felt that the city was rejecting me like a transplanted organ. I know now–I knew then–that that perspective was wrong. It takes time to settle in a new place, to build a new community. Moreover, it takes faith that the seeds you plant are worth cultivating. Right now, I am experiencing the joy of seeing those seeds yield true fruit. But there were times, along the way, when I thought my plants would not flower, and there were plenty of seeds that never sprouted. I stayed because I believed that God had brought me here for a purpose.
I have a wonderful life in Atlanta. It still has its difficulties and complications, but it is, overall, fruitful. I know that such a life could be cultivated anywhere. But I am glad it is here.