Next up in my Cities I Love series is a city that is near and dear to my heart: Atlanta. Atlanta is so special to me because I feel like it was the first city I made mine.
I only lived in Atlanta for four years — from September of 2000 through August of 2004, but because I have visited so frequently since leaving it feels like I lived there forever. During the summers while I was in law school, I worked one state away and would frequently go visit friends in Atlanta for the weekend. To this day, there are few things more satisfying to me than riding on I-20, coming over the hill and seeing the beautiful Atlanta skyline.
When I lived in Atlanta, I had a lot of firsts. First time living away from home, first serious relationship, first internship, and more. The experiences I had are a large part of the reason why Atlanta is so special to me. But there is definitely more to my love of the ATL than my wistful college memories.
The food. Duh. Of course I was going to talk about the food. From The Varsity to Waffle House (which I ate so much my first year in college that I had to swear it off forever — I do still have fond memories even if I’ll never eat there again) to Houston’s, I ate well while I was in Atlanta.
The people. Southern hospitality is not a myth. The people of Atlanta (at least those that are from there – or other southern cities!) are gracious, kind and friendly. But beyond that, there is also a certain swagger about many folks in Atlanta that while may sometimes be over the top, definitely sets Atlantans apart from folks in other cities. Not to mention that some of my favorite people live in Atlanta.
The celebs. Atlanta is cool because while numerous celebrities and athletes live in the area, its not filled with crazy papparazzi like Los Angeles. Which means the odds of you encountering someone who you just finished watching on television or listening to on the radio is high. For example, I regularly waited on Shannon Sharpe (who, for the record, I have nothing nice to say about, so I will just leave it at that). I also met Usher, Tyrese, Tyler Perry and a very large rapper whose name I think was something ridiculous like Bonecrusher? Shaquille O’Neal once held the door for me as I was walking into my restaurant for my shift (he is gigantic. Wow). Magic Johnson once wowed me with his amazingly bright smile. The celebrities are out and about in Atlanta and if you are too, chances are you will eventually run into one.
So there you have it. Eight years after moving away, Atlanta remains a huge part of my life and is a city I visit any time I can.