When we visited Zan in Atlanta, she wanted to show us her “whole city”.
It helps, of course, that she’s studying urban planning and civil engineering, so the whole city is her classroom – so to speak.
By the end of our five days together, we had shared birthday dinner in a gentrifying industrial district (we almost couldn’t find the restaurant as we all thought it was a car repair garage the first time past); we’d partied in much-storied Buckhead, in a glorious new home with art galleries both up and downstairs to display her professor’s collection of black Georgia artists. We walked the neighborhood of Inman Park and heard the citizen activist tour guide tell us the stories of the “hippies” who moved into these luscious structures in the 1960s and wouldn’t let urban renewal bulldoze Atlanta’s past; we lunched in the oldest house in Atlanta, the childhood (and still!) home of one of Dave’s closest friends from college years.
We ate at Mary Mac’s TeaRoom and had fried green tomatos there and strolled in Piedmont Park, visited the High Museum, saw Andrew Bird in concert, wandered the Georgia Tech campus, saw Zan’s office and the BeltLine (a new biking/walking loop project Zan’s been involved with) and grocery shopped at DeKalb Farmers’ Market, a huge expanse of foods from around the world.
But at the end of the trip, Zan expressed some concern: We hadn’t seen REAL Atlanta. We spent our days and nights wandering the surface of her fair city, and missed out on the harsher realities she cares so much about. The visit, while filling many of our desires, needs and expectations, kept us away from lower income Atlanta, from Atlanta’s hard rock racial concerns – past and present.
Zan is one of those rare humans who likes life unvarnished. May I always live up to her code!