Daily thoughts by a guy that doesn't like to think deeply too often!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Metro

I lived downtown in the Metropolitan lofts for a few years when I was in my late 20's. I loved the area; I loved my neighbors; I loved my loft. It was convienant to everything, and I liked the feeling of being an urban dweller. In those days, downtown was pretty much a ghost town after 5pm and on weekends. All of the restaurants and stores were closed, except for Underground Atlanta. No one lived downtown, except for those of us in the Metro and those that lived in the William Oliver Building across the street. I worked the late shift, so I was often walking my dog down Peachtree Street and through Woodruff Park after midnight. Although there were many "Urban Outdoorsmen" (homeless), I came to know each of them by name. I never felt unsafe. Although to outsiders, this was just another city block with skyscrapers, the corner of Marietta and Peachtree was my front yard. This was my home and my neighborhood. This was my life and I loved it.
Fast forward to yesterday. I went out to supper in Downtown Atlanta last night. The brakes on my car are shot, so I decided to take MARTA to the Five Points station and then walk a few blocks to the Centinnial Park Embassey Suites. These were my old stomping grounds. I knew every step of it. There were a few changes- a new post office, a Quizno's, etc. But most everything was the way I left it 10 years ago. So why did I feel panicky? My heart beat a little faster, I felt like I couldn't breathe. I was on the verge of a panic attack and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I didn't have my dog with me- or because I didn't recognize any faces? Maybe because I'm 10 years older now, or because I've lived in the safe and quiet suburbs for so long that the city streets have become alien to me. I don't know the reason, but I think it's all in my perception and I don't like the feeling.
I've fought for years over the perception of downtown Atlanta. I hear people say that they won't go to Underground because it's too dangerous, and I always disagree with them. But here I was, just steps from Underground and I'm feeling the same way.
On the way to the restaurant, I went through the park and searched for the brick with my name on it. I thought that maybe all would be well if I could just see the one piece of me that remained downtown. I looked for about 30 minutes and never found the brick. I know it was in section 17, at least it used to be there. But it wasn't there. After dinner, we walked through the park and searched again. This was really bothering me! At last, my brick was discovered. My little 2" x 6" piece of immortality. I've never been so relieved. I don't know what I imagined could've happened to my brick, anyway. But I breathed a little easier knowing that it was safe.


Blogger Matt ATL said...

We're so alike in our attitudes regarding downtown. Currently, I trudge through Kenney's Alley or down Peachtree Street every night on my way to school.

I hold my head high, occassionally make eye contact, and feel completely safe. I'm sure your pankickyness was just from being away for so long.

Feel free to return... often.

11:04 AM


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