I just sent six days in my hometown with a rental car.
One of my favorite things to do when I go back home is to just drive around Atlanta by myself. I don’t have to think about which direction I’m heading, or what the street names are (though I love and miss them and roll them around in my mouth as I pass “Gaskill” “Pickett” “Boulevard” “Ponce de Leon” “Juniper” “Krog” “Wylie” “Bonaventure” “Euclid”) — I just know where to go and where I’m going. I feel it. I lean into the curves on hoity-toity Lullwater under the magnolia trees just like when I used to ride my Honda scooter to the Emory Village Kinkos to xerox band fliers. I play slo-mo chicken with oncoming cars at deadman’s curve on that narrow ditch known as Carroll Street — my old street.
I talk to myself all the time. A lot. Even when other people are around. Maybe I’ve lived alone too long. On this trip I caught myself saying “guided tour” things out loud while tooling through old turf:
“that’s where I saw my first ever Lynda comeek (Poodle With a Mohawk) at that guy’s apartment, then we went and ate lamb with mint sauce at Papillon and the night ended with a pleasant merciful blow job”
“that’s the sunken park where I ate my first pot brownie at a two-year-old’s birthday party”
“that’s Heartsfield Manor where we all ate cheese Krystals and drank champagne on the porch swings after Richard’s show”
“that’s where I met my ex-husband’s baby”
“that’s where I tripped over the pothole and busted my ass while walking home after we watched Madonna Truth or Dare at Pribble’s and I was carrying a 12-pack of Busch cans and they rolled in every direction, and I just laid there for awhile watching them in the gutter all busted and squirting little lines of beer in the air”
“that’s the apartment where we got it on in the stairwell after we got home from dancing all night at Johnny’s Hideaway…I was wearing a black velvet dress”
Every inch of Atlanta has bread crumb trails for me. Silver snail tracks. I remember too much, I think.
“that’s the apartment where I found out that my friends were killed in a van wreck — I did a lot of screaming there”
“that’s where they found Allen in his car”
I love and miss you so much, Atlanta. Especially Cabbagetown. But it’s not the same anyhow, and I don’t think I’ll ever have the muscles to come back and stay. Too many cloudy ghosts for me — all bundled up in my eyes like cataracts to where it’s all I can see when I’m behind the wheel. That’s not safe.