I recently visited my grad school city of Washington DC where I attended Howard University. I abruptly left the city in the middle of a semester and said good bye’s to a group of the most intellectually creative individuals I know. It had been some 17 years since I’d visited the city and a lot had changed!
This southern city of Atlanta has not grown on me and it will be six years in January. I know, I know… this is the new “black Hollywood” this city is “where it’s at”, well not for me. I have lived in quite a few cities and fell in love almost instantly. Even with putting into perspective this move was life altering with taking guardianship of five children, Atlanta has simply not settled in my heart. It is the south… the dirty south with their own style of politics. It is truly black OR white. NO gray or other colors in between. Regardless of education or professional connections, this part of the south is black OR white… that is the determining factor.
Now, by no means am I saying there is nothing good about this city. I have friends who LOVE living here and friends who come to visit every chance they get because they LOVE Atlanta. The artists here are hands down some of the best writers I have met in my life! They are exposed to some of the most beautiful landscapes, colors and family stories to document and/or perform. The “family feel” that has a dominant spirit around the city is often missing from other major cities I have lived in. And now with caring for children, schooling is important and I live in one of the best counties for education in Atlanta. (they care for/about black children and their well being.) But as far as my personal growth as an artist and my growth as a maturing single woman… the “A” is not for me.
I was curious what I would feel when I visited DC. I was curious if I would want to move back? What would the energy be? I took the bus from Atlanta to DC. (hey, when you have kids, any time you can have a long length of time to listen to your heartbeat and only think about yourself…you will buy that time whenever/wherever you can!) I slept most of the ride to DC and upon getting my rental car and driving out of Union Station, there was DC. I quickly remembered all the buildings and downtown with all the circles and parked cars everywhere… I was TERRIFIED! It felt like someone was watching me at every stop light! I didn’t know which lane to be in to get to New Jersey St while driving DuPont Circle! Why are the cyclist lanes so damn close to the cars driving?! Where are all these people jogging to at 9:30pm??! Why are there people with business suits walking? Have they really just gotten off work? I remembered… I didn’t like DC! Remember why you left so abruptly during grad school?…
Then there were my colleagues. We caught each other up on where we are in life. Discussed recent awards and credits to our art. Laughed about our yesterdays 🙂 Talked about our plans and immediate goals in our perspective art forms. They filled me in on the ever so obvious gentrification that has happened in the greater Washington DC area. (It is no longer chocolate city, Atlanta is!) And we even discussed our fears… Now, I remembered why I stayed at Howard while I did. These minds. These perfect mixtures of left and right brain thinkers. I have an amazing circle of family friends in LA… but not like this.
I remember everyone being so serious in DC. Everyone had a gym membership or therapist. No one laughing. Everyone had somewhere to go and they had to get there in 6 minutes! Fast paced!! That is not what I needed in my life at that time. I was moving from Louisiana, Grambling State “where everybody is somebody”! And DC was everybody for themselves. I was not comfortable, I felt out of place. Perhaps I am just thirsty for some type of artistic/progressive connections, but I was sold. Project Move Out of Atlanta began immediately! The kids will finish up this school year and we will begin new in DC or Philly August 2014.
I look forward to using both sides of my brain and being creatively driven in a city where politics live. And if DC doesn’t make the cut, it is a short drive away from Philly, a city I have been wanting to live in for quite a few years now. DC re-charged my batteries! My goals have deadlines now! Don’t short change a bus ride people! It allowed me to do some DC dreaming…