You just keep me hanging on

I’d be lying if I said change was easy. My pants would be on fire even. Hell, my dog still pukes from anxiety after some of our walks to Piedmont Park (he just gets overwhelmed). And in my head I keep repeating, I’ve only been here a hair over two weeks… Rome wasn’t built in a day. My dog will get used to city life and I’ll have new friends in no time.

I take myself on dates around the city, discovering this new home of mine. My runs become increasingly longer as I find new paths to explore and I’ve almost become accustomed to Atlanta’s lack of turning/merge lanes. It’s become the norm for traffic to come to a complete stop as someone literally stops everything so they can cross the road at the most inopportune time. Or better yet, when the lanes do open up and you find that the speed limit is 30. 30! Come on Atlanta.

The drivers here waiver between reckless beyond belief and skittish… and when I say skittish I mean they take corners going about 10 mph and crawl through busy intersections. But I’m getting used to it.

I’ve jumped into two races (10Ks) and meet with run clubs every week which has resulted in some of my fastest run times for both a 10K and 5K. Go me!

I’ve meandered around Trader Joe’s, walked along the Beltline, biked among the neighborhood streets, attended a Christmas Potluck and pub crawl, tailgated and went to a SEC game and even took myself to lunch at The Vortex in Little Five Points. Sounds like a lot, right? I’m not exactly sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

But what I would love is a friend to go for a bike ride with, take a casual walk through the park or go see a movie or the holiday lights in Piedmont Park.

I find myself sitting in my apartment with the least soundproof door ever and the loudest hallway possible for a modern apartment complex, listening to the racket echoing off of the walls like the cranky old lady who turns the hose on trick or treaters on halloween and wander if it will always be this way.

Sometimes I walk into my closet and wonder why I own clothes beyond running outfits and sweatpants/sweaters. Maybe it’s the cold meds talking and maybe its the holiday blues, but I thought I would be one of those people that could transition to a new place and immediately have friends or even discover a local haunt I could become loyal to.

This weekend brings with it another holiday themed pub crawl and then a holiday party and most important of all: Saints vs. Falcons rematch on sunday… and I was hoping to watch with someone that could get into the game with me. Instead, I’ll be warming a bar stool and making polite conversation with strangers like I always do. But maybe this will be the weekend that surprises me. Maybe this sunday someone I know, and want to know, will share a seat next to me.

A guy at one of my meet-ups said he didn’t like going to things solo because it made him feel like a weird loser. Is that one I am? A weird loser? Or am I an adventurer trying to overcome a challenge. I’m going to hang on and try the optimistic approach and keep my fingers and toes crossed on this stance.

Now, on to the the Nyquil!

Advertisements

Maybe I’m too head strong

If at first you don’t succeed… you know the rest.

So back in September I tried my hand at a running club meet-up and was met with mixed results. The group was not outwardly welcoming of a new face but a few members warmed up to me over post race beverages and I walked away not feeling like a part of the group, but also not feeling like a complete social outcast.

Cut to tonight. I tried the group again.

I knew I needed to start my mission out on the right foot with some high self esteem so I set a goal for myself I new I could complete. I decided to find my way to the meet-up location without the use of the area interstates, just side roads. Spoiler alert, it was a success.

Navigating this city and understanding the main roads and where they connect is important to me. Others, probably not so much. But understanding where Monroe transitions to Boulevard is sense of accomplishment to me.

When I walked into the meet-up spot it was deja-vu. The same distant shoulder as last time. I took a spot in the middle of the other runners and actively listened to their group banter so I would feel included. I jumped in a couple times so they would at least acknowledge the new face in the group and then we were off on a run.

As the group hit the pavement I noticed a guy from the last time I participated in this run (he’s the tallest one, kind of hard to miss) and I stuck to his heels as we kept the same pace and he knew the path we were to take. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the pace and run felt, even as we hit hilly terrain. Hills, as some of you may remember, are my kryptonite in the same vein that finding parking spots in crowded areas is to me. Progress!

In fact, when I finished my run I still felt like I could go further. And although the weather had dropped to the low 40’s I was desperate and struggling to unzip my hoodie which was not budging. Two of my fellow runners stepped in (at my request) to help me get out without the aid of scissors and what followed was ten minutes of competition between two gentleman struggling with the same feat that had conquered me. But alas, success was again achieved and I was free to let the cool night air whisk away the heat of the run.

Some would find the above statement embarrassing. Not me. To me it was a gateway to a conversation, a way to be recognized as a newbie to the group. The theme of the night? Success.

We all gather into the covered porch, grab spots and mentally prepare our food and drink orders. Tall guy sits next to me and low and behold, he remembers me AND my name from one run with the group back in September. Color me impressed. I guess I do make a impression. Three others joined us and what followed was easy going, fun and comical conversations. I had finally  made a impact and stood out.

And better yet, two other will be running the next 10K that I’m signed up for which happens to be this saturday and this is important because the post party is strictly race participants only, and I really wanted to enjoy said activities with other people instead of as a loner. Do I have to say it again? Success. Oh, and one of the runners who I sat with and shared great conversation with is a neighbor in a nearby apartment.

This is the official start of week two in Atlanta and I have to say it is heralding some positive prospects, sometimes it pays to be headstrong.

Sunday came and it was over

Atlanta has been home for a solid week now, and starting last thursday night friends and family started asking me the same question: “So, what do you think about living in Atlanta?”. Honestly I didn’t have an answer til now. I’m loving it.

Prior to this weekend my experience in the city was relegated to a couple trips to Kroegers, a few runs on the beltline and very long hours at my computer catching up on work. But as of this afternoon I can proudly say that I have finally experienced the city and it is worth investing time in.

It all started out with a text from a old friend that has since moved to the otherside of the country but was going to be in town with other mutual friends  for the SEC Championship. I’m not a college girl, I prefer pro (NFL), so I was unaware of this game but agreed to meet-up for tailgating festivities after my 10K (Atlanta Beltline 10k). I have this crazy theory that the best way to meet people organically is by participating in activities that you enjoy and runners tend to be friendly folks.

Saturday morning woke me early with the sound of water dripping off of my balcony and I road my bike in a frigid downpour to my race destination about a mile away and waited with the other wet and cold runners as we huddled under every available awning, straining to loosen up limbs and stay warm at the same time. Most were quite focused on waking up as they almost visible shook sleep from their eyes. I took it all in, surveying the scene and trading small chit chat with those who were alert enough to do so.

The race itself went quite well, I’m thinking perhaps in small part due to the fact I couldn’t really feel my cold, wet toes for the first two hours. It ran along the beltline, into Piedmont Park and then back onto the Beltline, giving me a quick visual tour of Atlanta’s version of Central Park… and it’s truly a magnificent park even if it did add more puddles of water and patches of mud to my already soaked shoes.

Post race brought with it a free bag stuffed to the gills with about ten bottles of coconut water, 4 bottles of powerade, two bottles of water, a banana, 6 Kind bars and a race shirt (I may have reverted back to my college years ways when presented with the many tents of the above stated items). Oh, and two beers. But zero new friends. Can’t say I didn’t try. On a side note, it wasn’t until this morning that I tried one of my coconut waters and almost did a spit take. I’m going to have to figure out how to drink them down without gagging.

So, on to the SEC tailgate I took myself via one of my favorite city perks: Uber. I know, I know… Uber has gotten a bad rap as of late, but 100% of my experiences have been beyond positive (except for the random mark-up on prices on saturday nights).

Tailgating again took me back to my college years and the clouds parted to let sunlight and blue skies greet the revelers. Where was this awesome weather during my run? And although I didn’t intend to actually go to the game, a free ticket changed my mind and I was treated to a new experience: watching a live sport sans alcohol. That’s right, it was a dry game. The stadium was a veritable drunk tank, people filed in fresh from almost 6 hours of beer soaked tailgating and then spent 4 hours sobering up via water, soda and time.

Still a very cool experience to boast upon.

But what followed was even more fun: Dark Horse Tavern. If you haven’t been and you’re in Atlanta… just go, trust me on this. The upstairs portion of this bar is a typical bar with seating areas and a patio and many TVs broadcasting the various football games going on. But downstairs, downstairs is where it’s at. There you’ll find a pretty amazing live rock band that after singing a few songs, allows people to join in via karaoke. So basically it’s karaoke with a professional live band complete with back-up singers who will sing over you should you a.) sing horribly or b.) sing so low that the mic can’t pick up your voice.

I’m not into singing in front of people at all, but I dare you not to dance and sing along while others belt their hearts out to your favorite songs.

Uber again came into play by taking a couple of my friends and myself home after a mandatory Wendy’s stop complete with a frosty for my driver and more laughing than I’ve experienced in weeks. All in all, a very solid Saturday.

And Sunday? Well sunday means Sunday brunch. And its almost a unspoken rule that out of towners need to experience The Flying Biscuit Cafe at least once, because it is delicious and has yet to disappoint. No matter what you order, be sure to get one of their oatmeal pancakes topped with peach compote as a side… your stomach will thank you, it’s like eating the underside of the crust in a peach cobbler, the side that soaks up all the peach flavor.

And after this delicious brunch what was in order? Well a walk to one of the city’s many parks: Historic Fourth Ward Park. I imagine in the warm months this place is hoping, but today it was a wonderfully serene and calm sight on a cloudless cool day. Residents meandered about either corralling giggling children or playful pups. All had a smile plastered to their faces as they welcomed the unseasonably warm weather prior to the inevitable chill the month will bring.

So my first official week has ended with a weekend that promises many more like it to come. My only disappointment is I was not able to meet any new people, however this coming week is wrought with many opportunities to do just that… challenge excepted.

IMG_3937.JPG
SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome
IMG_3905.JPG
Flying Biscuit Cafe

 

 

 

Historic Fourth Ward Park
Historic Fourth Ward Park

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t know when I’ll be back again

Leaving Florida is something I’ve talked about for years. Actually, I’ve been entertaining the notion since my college years in Orlando… I just never thought it would take me so long into my life to get here. Most people go through their “big city” phase earlier in life and then settle in a smaller town where people know your name and face wherever you go. I’m doing it backwards, but that somehow seems fitting.

I’m a Gemini, and by nature harbor a sense of duality regarding all aspects of my life. There has been a nagging since of foreboding concerning my move ever present in the back of my mind. Excitement mingled with apprehension and a tinge of regret… like I’m being a traitor by turning my back on the state I’ve come to call home for so long. I’m leaving behind family, friends and a house and trading it all in for a 500 sq. ft. loft in a city where I’m just another fish in the sea. I’m leaving behind the known for the unknown… and isn’t that exciting?

My actual move was wrought with obstacles stemming from complications with my rental truck, the big issue being Budget took my reservation but the local proprietor ignored it. This caused a great domino affect resulting in me settling in to my new place a day late with quite a substantial load of stress on my shoulders.

Adding to that stress is the fact that my new place is still heavily, I repeat… HEAVILY under construction and I’m woken each day a 7am by several construction workers doing the best to enjoy their job with loud conversations and singing. Let’s just say no facet of my place is well insulted for noise, I’m praying the walls that separate me from my neighbors hold back noise better than my windows and main door.

However, the first moment I looked out of my window and saw mid-town framed out by blue skies and trees, well all of that stress moved to the back of my mind. The thought of enjoying this view for many mornings and nights to come drifted through my mind and I saw my feet propped on the railing of my balcony as I sat relaxing in a chair with either a coffee or beer in my hand dependent on the time of day.

The beltline in sight, my feet grew eager to explore it so I strapped a harness on my very sheltered dog (he’s used to being the king of his back yard after all), and together we stepped out. I wasn’t prepared at all for the busyness of the path, it was like pulling into the fast lane while going the minimum speed limit. Cyclist whizzed passed me in packs of tour de france style groups, squads of skateboarders made their presence known with their music blaring as they kicked their legs in unison with a obvious air of “coolness” hovering around them. There were duos of runners chatting about their lives and the families/couples walking their dogs… so much activity and life taking advantage of this amazing perk of Atlanta city life.

Modern art is scattered among brightly painted murals and businesses catering to the lifestyles of those whom chose to live near the path. New plants and trees sprout up along side older, larger trees and patches of dirt where new life has yet to spring up. This beltline is a obvious product of love, championed by people whom truly care and want to make a difference. This beltline and I will become very close friends this coming year… perhaps the best of friends.

 

 

I think with my heart and I move with my head

You always hear that making a big change, taking on a new challenge and falling in love are akin to taking some big leap. A giant metaphorical trust fall if you will.

Not to me. Committing to something outside my realm of comfort feels like wading into a great body of water. Each step taking me deeper and deeper into the water, the weight of my toes in the soft sand slowly becoming less and less until I’m treading water and praying I don’t go under. My faith is put in the hope that as waves splash against my face they won’t pull me under. Momentary panics hit me from out of the blue when various challenges arise and leave me struggling from air as my body sinks below the surface. What pulls me through those moments? The knowledge that I know I’ll float to the top and break the surface where precious air awaits.

I’m two weeks away from my walk into the water and right now all I can do is focus on one challenge at a time with the end result promising nothing but new experiences. My first challenge was finding a place to live, my second challenge: Going from a 3 bedroom house to a 600 sq. ft. studio.

That sort of change brings with it some inherent challenges and opportunities. It’s giving/forcing me to cull my possessions and rid myself of items I’ve accumulated throughout the years mainly because I had the space for it. You know how goldfish grow to the size of their containers (or so I’ve heard), well I think the same principle applies to people to.

I’m sorting through so many clothes that I had forgotten I own and I have to say: Just because you can still wear it doesn’t mean you should. Seriously, I know fashion is a cylindrical beast but is it really going be age appropriate by the time that particular style rolls back around?

ThredUp.com, Craigslist and Ebay have become my new best friends. Any and all opportunities to bequeath to my friends possessions I have but am no longer in need of have become quite frequent (no Stacey, I’m not dying).

I’m embracing the opportunity to reassess what means a lot to me. No I’ can’t take everything with me but I’ll only be in a Studio for a year, I can live without a coffee table, my night stands and incredibly large collection of awesome t-shirts. The only part that I haven’t quite figured out is where I’ll be able to harbor my painting supplies. But the fact I’m having a touch of creative block is keeping that minor roadblock just that…minor.

So here I stand, feet still safe on the sand with waves are licking at my toes… waiting to take my first step into the water.

Can’t stop, won’t stop moving

I know its been awhile, but long story short: I’m moving to Atlanta. Cue the fireworks.

This decision feels validated as my excitement level grows every day that edges closer to move-in date. Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving for you non-shopaholics) will find me, a moving truck, my car plus my parents and their car in a very slow caravan heading North to my new home in the Old Fourth Ward.

Selecting where to live was in and of itself quite the adventure that started with a panic attack (sorry about that Mom), segued to me personally viewing at least 26 location in and outside the Perimeter and ended with a drive home where I was able to think long and hard over why I was moving to the city in the first place. Once I figured out the “why” I was able to narrow down my choices to locations that would enable my enjoyment level.

The complex I selected wasn’t even finished being built yet, a move typically outside my comfort zone as I had to put faith in my instincts that pushed me so very hard in that direction. I saw beyond the dirt, the concrete yet to be poured and the framework of the gym that hugged the corner of the complex. I saw myself, sitting on my balcony gazing out at a little corner of Mid-town’s high rises just beyond the Beltline that runs by my building. That’s right, the Beltline.

When I start to get overwhelmed at logistics and the reality of the strain on my finances that Atlanta will cost me, I just picture myself running on the Beltline past new parks and old ones. I my dog and I walking to Piedmont Park to enjoy a picnic lunch on a sunny day. And I picture myself sitting at the bar of one of my favorite haunts in Little Five Points enjoying a local brew… and it calms me.

When I spent a month in Atlanta this past August I thought that I would fall in love with a guy and maybe a guy would fall in love with me. Instead I fell in love with a city. Is it a perfect city? No. Am I perfect? Nope. But do we get along and have crazy adventures together? Oh yea.

So now I will blog about my adventures in my new home. I’ve been green-lighted to work remote for at least a year, so I plan to see how many experiences I can accumulate in those precious 365 days.

Stay tuned to hear about my successes as well as my missteps, both should be quite amusing.

I would like to reach out my hand

Operation Atlanta: Step 1 Update

With every day that parts me from my experience in Atlanta my resolve to keep hope, stay strong and find the courage to ask my company for permission to work remotely full time has most definitely been tested.

My first hurdle: I left my computer bag on accident. Yup, great foot to start off on my first day back in the office. It’s ok though, because for almost $200 FedEx will overnight important and expensive things to you.

My second hurdle: FedEx dropped the ball big time. My important and expensive item was sent to Texas for I guess a quick vacation. What followed was 3 days of me cleaning and organizing my office in between apologies.

My third hurdle: working up the nerve to corner my manager to plead my case that was impeded by his active meeting schedule my severe case of “yellow belly”.

And like that, a week was wasted.

I could feel the edges of complacency seeping into my mindset. Sure the allure of a loft ideally located somewhere in Mid-Town, Buckhead or Virginia Highlands enticed me by the second… But so did the option of ambling half awake to my bedroom’s sliding glass door when my dog randomly woke at 3am to use the restroom.

I spent my Friday reconnecting with my friends and expounding on all the wonderful components that Atlanta offers; it was so easy to slip back into the old routine. Plans were made to camp on a local island on Saturday and for a brief spell, I realized I could settle back into this life.

Mid conversation with an old friend I hadn’t seen in months I gazed around the room I was in and found myself mentally checking off potential suitors… And it was easy because there were none. Ok, noted. That would be one aspect, one old wound that would never truly heal or change.

Saturday our ragtag group of beach lovers made our way to Spectre Island, set up tents and promptly got busy drinking. Life on the island is simple: drink til the sun goes down, start a campfire to cook your brats and get busy drinking some more.

Intermittent breaks to witness the bioluminescent plankton broke up the time and camaraderie was built around ensuing shenanigans that included: bursts of random streaking, fireworks, cafe patron and the creepily accurate recitation of Disney lyrics… By a guy. He was seriously like a drink savant.

Sun breaks the next day and we’re all up before 7am, some more broken than others. Promises are made to not repeat certain stories from the night and one gentleman leaves early so he can get cleaned up and head to church a hour outside of the town we were in.

Why would someone whom drank heavily the previous night torture his sleep deprived self with a hour trip to church when there are at least 20 within a stones throw from where we were? To meet chicks.

Yup, according to him our town’s female population was evidently plagued by “uneducated townies”. Awesome. So evidently as a single female residing in said town I was lumped into the “uneducated townie” category.

I need to leave. My resolve is renewed. Why waste more time trying to figure out what part of me was broken when it’s the area.

My case of yellow belly was cured.

I made the decision to go for it and ask my manager at our conference we were leaving Monday for. After all, there were no meetings to steal his time away.

The conference inspires my creative spirit and courage. Every night is capped with a social event marking the end of the day and encouraging networking. Everyone is at ease. Monday night carried a bit too much “ease” and I vowed to that Tuesday night I would take the leap.

Tuesday night rolls around and the words are dancing on the tip of my tongue, struggling with every minute… Every breathe to escape.

Our group transitions to the pool area and I practice what want to say, over and over again in my head. His stifled yawns increase in succession and I realize it’s now or never. We turn to walk back to the hotel and I spring it on him, my words rushing out in a less than eloquent stream than what I had practiced repetitively in my head.

And you no what? It didn’t go bad. The decision was made to get the big boss sold on the idea before the previous word I sought would be spoken: Yes. But it wasn’t a “no”, and with that my hope was restored and the weight that had been occupying my backside was lifted.

Step 1 was a success and I’m less fearful now of Step 2. I’ll start practicing my sales pitch now.

danke schoen darling danke schoen

Week 5, Day 1

It’s Oktoberfest day!!!!

A brief history on myself to explain my love for this holiday: I grew up in Germany as a military brat… my father did two tours abroad so the bulk of my childhood memories prior to high school originate over there. As an adult I have been back quite a bit and have attended Oktoberfest in Munich three times. So the prospect of going to a alpine-themed town only 1.5 hours from where I’m staying is greatly appealing. And the fact I have a adventurous suitor to share the experience with is the cherry on my sundae.

We agreed to meet at 10:30am so we could get the most out of the day as there are a lot of non-Oktoberfest related activities that I’m keen to do prior to imbibing in good ole german beer.

As I head north the hilly nature of my city slowly transitions to the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and I feel myself getting giddy. The drive is quite straightforward so I’m able to take in the scenery without worrying about my GPS yelling at me. The roads become windy and curvy, I find I’m losing myself in nostalgia as memories of childhood road trips spring to mind. There’s a juxtaposition, a amalgamation of my childhood memories melding with my more recent memories of trips abroad and I’m truly in my happy place.

I hear from my date MM when I’m 20 minutes out and he instructs me to enjoy a leisurely drive through town and to then stop at the last restaurant I see so we can enjoy a nice breakfast before starting our day. The town is small and easy enough to cross through, bavaria-meets-theme-park style buildings dot the main strip and I’m both enamored and humored by the locals in their outfits/costumes.

Our breakfast stop is easy enough to find and MM and I show up at the exact same time, excellent. I’m impressed that he took the initiative to suggest this place. We see each other and wave and he grabs us a seat outside on the patio, the weather is perfect up here at this time of day for enjoying fresh air.

I walk up for a hug and the first thing I spot on our table is a pack of cigarettes, and for a moment a storm cloud floats across my happy bliss. But then I remember that I was going to make this trek solo had MM not asked to meet me up here so whether we work romantically or not, he can be my partner in crime for the day. After all, just because a date doesn’t work as a match, it doesn’t mean he can’t become a friend.

We work through the initial awkwardness that first dates bring and we get along great. Once I ascertain that he is not a creepy serial killer I text K & D so they don’t have to worry about me. Man I love those two.

He’s very creative by nature and is excited to see the town (where he’s been before) through my nostalgically tinged eyes. We finish a hearty breakfast and while I excuse myself to use the restroom he wanders off into the parking lot to smoke a cigarette.

We park our cars closer to town and decide to explore a bit before hitting the hills to discover waterfalls. I notice that he has a habit of introducing himself and shaking hands with everyone that crosses our path, and I’m not sure how he keeps all of the names straight. The gentleman that was manning the parking area, the woman working the wine bar where I purchased some local wine, the couple we end up sharing a bench with to watch the town parade over a small stein of beer… and this is just the beginning of the day.

After a small tour of town we head back to his vehicle and ride to the first of our hikes: Anna Ruby Falls. It’s a very easy hike and very popular with many ill-equipped for hiking (ie, families with strollers and those pushing 70), but in the gift shop is a map of all the area parks and falls and after MM finishes ascertaining trail preferences from several rangers (as well as shaking their hands and introducing himself) we jump back in the car and head to the next trail.

On our way to the next trail we’re side tracked by a dilapidated flea market with an adjacent rundown snack bar and even more run down go-kart track. MM decides he’s hungry so he grabs a hotdog and soda while I wander through the two shops that bring to mind various mountain folk based horror movies (think “Wrong Turn”) with it’s creepy dust covered farming equipment, questionable bottles of various liquids and cast iron kitchen items affixed to the ceiling. The owners (a older couple) make sideways glances at us as we’re clearly the wrong clientele but MM happily shakes hands and introduces himself and next thing I know we’re hopping in the most run down go-carts known to man and racing each other around a track. I have to add, MM was asked to sign an emergency waiver before we were allowed to race the go-karts and when prompted for a emergency contact to use I suggested “911”.

Cut to the track and the husband sits on the side and watches with amusement as I learn to work the cart and turn the sharp corners (it was my first time), and after 8 minutes the fear of tipping/flipping the cart subsides and I start “drifting” like MM has been trying to teach me. We’re having such a great time that the husband adds an additional few minutes to our allotted 10. What seems like a short time feels like a very long time to me as I’m too short to reach the steering wheel and have to hold myself up the entire time. #ShortPeopleProblems.

After all of that excitement we head to the next park which I do a great job of locating as the designating navigator (pats self on back) and we get to hiking. This park offers more of a true park experience and we lose ourselves in chit chat as we wander along the various paths. Our tastes in TV shows is very similar and we reminisce over funny episodes while at the same time sharing bits of our lives. For instance, I expounded on my penchant for klutziness to explain why I kept one eye on the path at all times.

While back tracking to the path that leads to the parking lot we decide to walk up the side of the river some and soon find a very small path that leads directly to the river bed. We ditch our shoes, (he rolls up his pant legs) and we walk into the water. It is by far my favorite part of the day. The water is cool enough to feel refreshing and the river rocks have a gloriously smooth polish that my feet and toes enjoy walking over. The bed seems to sparkle from all of the mica embedded in the rocks as well as the rays of sunshine that peak through the tall trees. It’s magical. I’m lost in the moment and his creative eye is as well… we’re both in our own worlds, desperately trying to capture the moment to the best of our abilities with our cameras. I could have stood in the river for hours and felt at peace.

But we were burning daylight and we still had Oktoberfest to explore, so back to town we went.

During our early trip to town MM spotted a small hole-in-the-wall bar with a happy hour sign that we decided to partake in and it was a wonderful idea. This small, dark, smoke filled bar was full of the most legit german beer I have ever seen in the states. It was also home to the friendliest bartender/owner AND was currently being used as the headquarters for a local couple whom was hosting a party for their out of town friends; and these people partied like true Oktoberfest Germans.

There was dancing on tables, benches, chairs… singing, debauchery… general craziness, and it was awesome. We made friends with the people and joined in on the mayhem and then brought newcomers into the fold. This is what I was hoping for; the camaraderie that festivals such as this inspire. I honestly can’t remember how long we were there, all I know is I hit the point where I needed a giant pretzel and the outside bar that reeked of tourism (it was sponsored by Miller Lite after all) had some surprisingly amazing pretzels to nosh on. So away we went.

At this outside venue was a very talented singer/guitar player whom we had heard play earlier in the day and MM set about to making this man his friend. Of course. And I set about making a giant pretzel my meal. Time passes, songs are sung, more beer is drank and I have a conversation about cigarettes with MM as he’s been sneaking away to smoke once an hour since the start of our day (because I asked him not to smoke them around me). See, my grandmother passed away from smoking and I can’t understand why anyone with someone else to live for would choose to poison their system in such a manner. I asked him if he has ever considered e-cigarettes and he said he prefers the real thing. Fair enough, it is his own body after all.

He declares he needs more caffeine and we get him the tiniest espresso I’ve ever seen and then make our way to the Festhalle. Time flew by so quickly that the festhalle has shut down its restaurant with my intended dinner of choice and is busily becoming the kind of party you would find at a Elks Lodge, so we wander over to the local hotspot that looks like a building from Bavaria but sounds like a drunken karaoke bar. It’s actually both.

There’s no food to be had so I enjoy a soda and we chat over more personal items. Come to find out MM is extremely freshly divorced with a 1-year-old child and is eager to reclaim the years, life, happiness that had been out of reach for so long. I admire him for shaking off the old to wander into the light… like a much more extreme version of what I was doing. He’s been wanting to start fresh for so long and that explains how when he takes in a scene that he likes… he’s truly taking it in, absorbing it like someone denied water would do after a walk through the desert.

As thought-provoking and eye-opening as the conversation is, I start to get sleepy and realize it’s already 11pm and I have an hour and a half drive to get back home ahead of me. He walks me to my car, we share a chaste kiss that mildly tastes like tobacco and I’m on my way back to ATL.

I had such a wonderful day and shared it with someone whom was loving life just as much as I was… and it was truly an experience. I plan on staying in touch with MM, but I think he needs to continue seeking out what makes him happy for a while before settling down again. Plus, cigarettes… ew.

 

With every broken bone I swear I lived

The wrap up

A steady drizzle and sky of grey are Atlanta’s farewell to me. I load up my car one armful at a time and am amazed at how much I’m taking back with me… I hadn’t realized I brought so much.

I brought with me not only a good amount of clothes, but also my hopes and hesitation. I’m leaving behind my hesitation and only carrying with me hope… Hope that I will be back sooner than later. I’m carrying with me a renewed faith in myself and a stronger self confidence.

I’ve learned a lot in 30 days, a lot about my own short comings and misconceptions… As well as a lot about this city that only a few short years ago intimidated me with its veins of ever moving traffic and skyscrapers scattered among the trees.

I learned that men here aren’t truly that much different than the ones back in Florida save for one caveat: they are more willing to put themselves out there. They actually ask girls on dates. Well, most of them.

There are still those that lack on following up. There are the ones that wear masks of charm but haven’t finished feasting from the dating buffet. There’s still that one guy that texts me once a week and then waits a week to reply to my text… And always on a Saturday afternoon. There’s also the polite ones that open doors for me, and the ones that are truly looking for their other half. And there are the wounded birds that are trying to mend themselves but aren’t sure how… So they keep carrying their wound with them.

I learned it’s ok to put yourself out there and take a chance. Not everyone will like you or want to be your friend, but that’s ok… Because the odds more often than not tend to be in your favor.

I learned that true friends will love all of you, including your faults and short comings.

The things we want in life, the paths we’re afraid to take, the words we truly want to say… If they’re truly worth it than they’re worth working for. Take a chance and follow your instinct, no matter how scary it may be. I’ve lived and felt more alive in the last 30 days than I have in a long time; it took this trip to show me I’ve been sleep walking through my life lately… and I’m not quite sure when that started, but I’m awake now.

Stay tuned to find out if I’ll be heading back, because this girl met Atlanta… And she liked it.

Oh, I still owe you guys a recap of Saturday’s date in Helen at Oktoberfest. It was quite a day so I’m still working on the write-up 😉

Are there some aces up your sleeve?

Week 4, Day 7

In two days I must pack up my car and leave, and every minute that brings me closer to that time brings with it a feeling of sadness. I want to stay. I didn’t realize how much this area had grown on me until presented with my end date.

I’m going to a pot luck/game night courtesy of Meet-Up.com (again, thanks internet) and make a batch of salted caramel brownies to take with me. Fingers crossed my new friends like them as well as the nice bottle of red I will be bringing with me. I’m a tad nervous I need to bring more as the message board is alight with all the items others had pledged and some seem far above traditional quantities (one guy posted he was bring 6 bottles of rum. 6!). Perhaps I’ll stop by the liquor store on my way. Will Just have to play that by ear.

My date for saturday’s trek to Oktoberfest in Helen has been busy communication with me, he’s a creative type and he finally found out I’m an artist. Have I shared that with you all yet? Yup, I’m a painter and graphic designer. He’s pretty ecstatic about this revelation (can’t believe I hadn’t disclosed this tid bit yet), and says that he has a million questions to pick my brain with but is excited to wait to do so on our hike or over a stein of german lager. Have I mentioned I’m excited about saturday?

My sunday brunch date also checked in to set up a time and general locale, and I agreed that he could pick the restaurant (I actually really like when guys take charge like that. Obviously if there’s someone place I really want to go I’ll offer up the suggestion, but if I’m ambivalent then suggest away). I also chatted with my Aunt whom will be in town and will be dropping in on her before leaving town. One of her kids lives in the North Atlanta area and I’m promised a new playmate should I comeback to town.

My phone is alight all day with texts from Redbox, and back home this would guarantee at least one of my weekend nights would be occupied with my couch, a glass (bottle) of wine and a movie. But since I’ve been up here I’ve ignored that dear departed friend. Redbox, we’ll meet again.

I put together a cool but casual outfit and head out to my friday night’s chosen activity; feeling proud that I for once don’t have to lean on one of my roomies and they’re free to do as they please.

Obviously since I chose a white sill blouse the sky decides to create a downpour and I show up at my event ready to participate in a contest. Luckily I’m only the 2nd person of 30 to arrive so I have time to dry before meeting my new friends.

Time ticks by and slowly but surely everyone files in and I have to say, this may be a rag tag team but they’re all surely enjoyable people. Seriously, I met girls and guys I wouldn’t normally have bumped in to during my day to day activities, and I feel like that would have been a shame.

We chow down on our various pot luck items and I’m secretly impressed that all of these 30 strangers from various walks of life are so personable in their own right.

I joke that we need name tags because the only name I remember is the moderator’s name and as time passes I slowly feel like a jerk because so many people know my name. Is it because my name is unique or am I that memorable?

Regardless, time passes effortlessly and had I not planned an early Saturday event I would surely have become quite inebriated as alcohol was quite free flowing and all games were centered around it.

I did try to make friends with a girl that was seemingly an outcast due to he shyness and had my attempts rebuffed. Either she truly dislike me or was socially challenged. Or she thought I was gay. Either way, my friendship was denied and I in e again found my way into the guys group (naturally).

But all is good, these men were personable, fun, nice and I would hang out with any of them any day. Except for the guy that hit on me and then I was introduced to his girlfriend. Shady.

So I hid adieu at the early hour if midnight so I could be rested for my day if activities in Helen. Oktoberfest here I come!!