I grew up in the Greater Atlanta area, in a city 20 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta called Marietta. My house is located right off Sandy Plains Rd. My family and I moved to that home in 1992. Back then, Sandy Plains was two lane street. It was a stark contrast from what it is today. Nowadays, everything one needs is located right along Sandy Plains. Grocery stores, pharmacies, my high school, dentist offices, doctor offices, fast food restaurants, cemeteries, post offices, pet stores, movie theaters, bookstores, and even hair salons. My high school hangout spot was the Chick-fil-A off Sandy Plains Road. And even when we got older and wanted to frequent nightclubs; the neighborhood nightclub was a short 5 minute commute from Sandy Plains.
Some of my fondest childhood memories were created on Sandy Plains Rd. In middle school, I climbed on the school bus without getting lunch money from my dad. I remember watching my dad’s maroon caravan follow the school bus all the way down Sandy Plains, as I tried to urge the bus driver to pull over so I can get my lunch money. I remember my 8th grade formal. My parents dropped me off at school and afterwards, my friends and I went out to eat at a Mexican Restaurant off Sandy Plains Road. I remember learning how to drive. On Sunday afternoon, my dad would take me to Lassiter High School’s parking lot, to practice. I remember my first 1 hour conversation on the phone with boy occurred as I walking along Sandy Plains Road.
Coming home is always a joy. My heart smiles as I drive in my neighborhood because my mind replays those happy memories.
I believe that one’s home should be her shelter from life’s storms. The world is chaotic. The co-worker who smiles in your face at work may stab you in the back one day. Your crush may one day call you ugly. You may have thought you earned an outstanding score on an exam, but later find out that you barely passed. But home should be people full of people who embrace you no matter what. They are always there to greet you with a warm hug and encouraging words. They’ll tell you when you’ve messed up in the most loving way possible. It’s the place that you can be your true self, without any hangups on how you’re being perceived.
And that’s what home has always been to me. It’s a place I can relax. It’s the place where I am most comfortable.
Comfort is not a bad thing entirely, but it does have one downside. Comfort prevents you from growing. Growth occurs when you’re outside of your comfort zone and forced to try new things and befriend new people. When you’re comfortable, you do the same thing all the time. For, you have no reason to change. You’re satisfied.
Change provokes me. Change causes me to be aware and to try new things that I ordinarily would never try. In Marietta, my friends are very similar to me. We are of the same ethnicity; we are from the same neighborhood. We grew up in the same church; therefore, we have similar experiences, opinions and perspectives. When I graduated from college and ventured up to Boston for graduate school, I befriended people of different backgrounds, experiences, ages, and nationalities. My time in Boston was such an eye-opening experience; it caused me to be more aware of myself and the world around me.
After graduating from Boston, I spent some time in West Africa and India, which expanded my horizons. In 2010, I accepted a job offer in Richmond, VA. Last year, I relocated to North Carolina. When I am in other cities, I feel like a new person. I am more inclined to try new things and take risks, which results in my growth and development. Intentionally placing myself in an environment where I have no emotional ties causes me to see things from a different perspective. I need such new experiences to fully become the woman I want to be.
I went to Marietta a few weeks ago and I enjoyed every second of it. I didn’t do much beside grocery shop at the stores I know so intimately. I slept in the bed the bedroom that I move into when I was 7. I cooked in the same kitchen I had watched my mom cook Thanksgiving dinners in countless times before. I brunched at the same restaurant I had frequented many times before. Home is always peaceful and comfortable.
I am getting married soon. When I was deciding on a location for the wedding, there was no other city that I wanted to host the most important day of my life than Atlanta. My fiance and I met in McDonough. For our first date, we went to a restaurant in Virginia Highland and had drinks in the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta. One of our most memorable dates occurred in Piedmont Park.
Atlanta may not always serve as my mailing address, but it will always be the city that I affectionately refer to as home.