Its nearly time - nearly time for me to bid my goodbye to you. We've come a long way, the two of us. You, a 'not-really-a-city' city, and me a confused jumbled mess only a little worse for the wear. I came here not knowing what to expect, although I did initially imagine that I'd be landing in a slightly smaller scale version of New York or Boston or San Francisco. Little did I know that you are none of those - but somehow your weird quirkiness has made up for the things you lack in great measure.
There is much that I will miss about you. You have been home to me for three and half years almost now. I think I've 'lived' here more than I have anywhere else. Six apartments, six different neighborhoods all in the space of three and a half years. In some ways we're just the same. Odd creatures of morning habit and a somewhat somnolent benevolence straining to become something more, something else, something greater. I identified with you and your patches of brilliance and inspiration, under cover of normalcy and ordinariness, and you were kind to me for it. Understanding the minutiae of a life was something new to me. Every tiny little detail was an awakening, a discovery, an adventure. My first real job, my first time living away from Madras and home, my first car, a graduate school experience, my first year of marriage. This tribute is in part a catalog of all those firsts, all those great experiences and moments.
Many firsts, many challenges - in fact almost always challenging, in equal measure though, rewarding and enriching. All the while learning - who I really am and what I really seek. Alas, sometimes I feel as though I've failed in small measure and that I should have and could have done more. Always that same lament.
I would like to think that I extended myself to seek everything you had to offer. The beautiful green that envelops you and spreads across and away like a soothing soft moss on foot. Hiking across the Chattahoochee on my own and then traversing the Ocoee rapids with friends. Exploring the south and taking off to Nashville and Asheville, Savannah and Charleston. The food - oh the glorious food. I've awakened another distinctive Kumbhakarnan from within. I've listened to some great music and some not so great - but always entertaining. Such wonderful memories filled with mirth and laughter, but equally with incredulity and ridiculousness. Lifelong friends that I am lucky to have met and made. My beautiful wife - who though she drives me insane and crazy; delights, thrills and enthralls me in equal measure. We've grown with each other, we've learnt about one another, we've lived and loved and you've helped us truss that turkey and carve that pumpkin, set up that Christmas tree and light those deepavali villakkus.
To my greatest surprise I've played my longest stretch of organized cricket, the only south Indian in a team of Maharashtrians and Gujaratis, the only non-accountant in a team almost entirely of the ilk. Traipsing out to the burbs, sweating it out on baseball diamonds, all the while trying to bowl line and length - what a hoot! Off pe rak! Off pe rak! You've never been boring to me. It has been a journey that has gotten curiouser and curiouser as I've learned more about you and discovered and pulled back the mortar and the bricks.
My morning cup of coffee on your porches and patios listening to bird calls and watching the slow unwinding of sun and heat across the inky blue. I bought into it. I put my feet down and let them stand still. Home is where you stand still says Pico Iyer. I cared about you, about your little stories and your big boy events. I made friends - many friends. The guys at the gas station, that family at the dry cleaners, that crazy check out lady at TJ's, the lady with the sweetest smile at the gate. I felt a kinship that was beyond myself, beyond where I was from and who I am. It was a kinship based in this present moment in this place together. Going to grad school here brought alive some long dormant, nebulous, nascent intellectual stirrings, stirrings that now have room to stay and words with which to be articulated.
|Trusty rust-bucket staring out onto another gorgeous Atl sunset|
I've come to love you quite dearly and there will ever be that little corner of my heart that will remain in the Atl. This crazy, confounding ridiculous city that I've called home :)
P.S Its now been over two weeks since I left and I just wanted to say that I miss you.