For seven straight days, my mom and I shared the same 20 x 20 box with two beds. Whenever she awoke, I did too. Whenever she watched a Lifetime movie, so did I. Meals? together. Neighborhood drives? Side by side.
We know a lot about each other, she and I. Always have, but this trip took us to a new level of understanding.
Here’s what I knew to expect: She’s always presentable and always prepared. She notices the colony of lint settling onto my peacoat approximately 3 days before I do. She checks for holes in her nylons before packing them on a trip, and immediately hangs up her coats, dresses, sweaters, scarfs and transient “wrinkleables” in the hotel closet. The folds of her purse are lined with protein bars and small stashes of almonds.
“Lord knows when you’ll find yourself hungry or in a bind.”
Here’s the unexpected: I felt so much like my dad.
I guess he’d take his socks off in the middle of the night and forget to find them the next day, swallowed in the sheets. I guess he’d talk to waiters and workers and people with the same spark and tenderness that she caught me with.
“You’re so much like your father,” she’d say.
But besides the quirks and traits and behavioral patterns that were passed onto him to be passed onto me, I felt so much like my dad because I felt so much love for my mom. My, my. What a mushy thing to say and extraordinary thing to feel.
Our time in Atlanta can then be lumped into two themes that are so strongly intertwined. Human behavior (my mother’s, my father’s, my own. The people, past and present, that make up the confederacy — that make up the state and the stories told to the tiny Georgia Peaches not yet ripe enough to hear the true sounds of the South) and History.
We started at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. Read the quotes to get an idea of the type of human behavior this President fought for.
We drove through the Virginia Highland neighborhoods to stop by a house that means so much to a few we love.
The Fox theatre welcomed us into the Cleopatra Ballroom, where we stood amidst hundreds of lit forty-somethings in sailor hats. They swayed and step-touched to the sounds of Yacht Rock Revue. The band looked like they had just stepped into technicolor, and their mustaches were unspeakably seventies.
The next day we went to Stone Mountain. Before we knew its racist roots, we looked upon it as visitors and were charmed by it. The Antebellum plantations. The fallen leaves. The wooden planks, everything frozen in time.
I cannot even express how heavy my heart is after seeing the tribute to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson proudly etched into the stone that once held burning KKK crosses. The day evoked strong questions, emotions, sadness. But the visit was worthwhile. It was 20 degrees when we were there, but I cannot recall the cold, only the air hot, sticky with hatred.
For the rest of the trip, I worked and worked and worked. Luckily, my main girl was always up for meeting me after a long day and trying new places to experience new eats. Together, we sampled some of Atlanta’s food jewels.
And when all the food and fun was said and done, we’d come back to the hotel and rest our heads in unforgivably comfortable beds. We marveled at the christmas decorations and the heated indoor pool.
I took a dip to get my heart rate up. When it slowed, I floated on my back, placing my index fingers in my ears. I listened to the blood circulate and the pool vent chew the water. Weightless, I expressed my gratitude to Work for displacing me, and to my mother and father for placing me where ever it is I am today.
With love, Us.