Needless to say, I am in a reminiscent state. I would blame it on “Throw Back Thursday”, however I’ve been falling into this state every time I sit in our office on RDA and look out the window. It’s a bit emotional. I get emotional when I think of how far we (community, colleagues and myself) have come, in a short period of time. Reviewing the work done to get us here is even more overwhelming. However, the joggers on the Beltline, festivals in the parks and multiple offers on a single home have been the reward and just the tip of the iceberg.
Let me back up for those who are new to the Rebirth of my SW ATL..
A trip home to Brooklyn NY, changed my life. I was very aware of the on going transformation in Harlem since the 90’s.
.. I saw it…I heard of it.. however, I did not live it since I didn’t frequent Harlem. It was something happening “over there”..as if Harlem was another Country and certainly something that would not impact me.
In the 90’s, I was comfortable living in Bed-Stuy. I had a 3rd floor Brownstone apartment , paying $800(all inclusive) a month and thinking THAT was too high since it was technically ONLY 1.5 bedrooms,a livingroom, eat in kitchen, hall and bathroom with skylights, walk thru his/her dressing area equipped with marble sinks and builtin dressers. How dare my 80yr old landlord share her old house with ONLY my 2 person family and expect us to pay all that?
Yup…Hindsight is 20/20.
During this trip home,a visit to 592 Decatur Street was priority as she was now 90, and had not seen my daughter in 3 years. It felt wonderful to really be home. I mean, truly home- with all the same sights, sounds, smells and yes, NY dirt I love. I was home and taking full advantage of everything. I had franks from the food CART (no truck needed to cart boiling water and buns), an authentic FRESHLY MADE Beef Patti from real Jamaicans (not the box from the supermarket), Gyro from the Gyro King off 34th St, a Hero sandwich from the corner Bodega (who already knew American cheese is suppose to be YELLOW) and a Mystic drink. Nothing disappointed me- it all was just as I had remembered and longed for.
Sitting on the stoop “people watching” was a nice evening pass time. Something I missed and still miss (Atlanta does not have stoops, most drive everywhere and if we had stoops, the mosquito’s would run us off!) However, there were many faces I did not recognize. My ex-landlord was quick to fill in the blanks with all the gossip (after all, she lived there over 50yrs and knew everything) “..she’s a doctor. That’s Ms. So& So daughter-she took over the house when her mom died, he’s the baby of the family-he’s grown now and has a wife home…” I didn’t mind listening one bit, she took pride in knowing and was happy that EVERYONE KNEW HER. I did notice some passing did not receive any recognition or introduction, despite their evening greeting. They were polished. A different race. And looked out of place, based on my memory of the street. Her only comment on this, “… Brooklyn is changing…like what they did in Harlem. My taxes have gone up…”
We were silent.
It was a sad moment for me to feel her unspoken fears. I did not know how to reassure her.
What could I possibly reassure? She was 90, I was 27. She lived longer and saw more.
Change is inevitable.
My return back to Atlanta was refreshing. I HATE to admit this, but I was tired after NY and welcomed the slower pace, a house with central AC and the stillness nightfall brought. I had come to find peace in the predictability of stores closing, transit stopping and people being indoors by a certain time.
But, my soul longed for a balance.
………to be continued next Throw Back Thursday