Five years ago, when we moved to Michigan, I knew that there was a built-in sunset to our stay. I had accompanied my husband who was enrolled in the accounting PhD program at Michigan State University. With the achievement of his doctorate, we felt the proverbial boot on our backsides. Time to move on. It turns out that five years is just about the perfect amount of time to feel like you've become a part of a community. We had our friends, our synagogue, our favorite restaurants and shopping routine.
Now we are in unfamiliar territory. Every day is a new exploration of a place both very old and very new. Atlanta's trees tower over the streets, shading modest homes built when Jim Crow reigned supreme and Jews were viewed as foreigners. Those same trees hold in their arms ropes for children's swings; Indian-American children of CDC employees, African-American children of nurses and software designers, southern children of midwestern and northern expats, play together in the busy childcare facilities at the Greater Atlanta YMCA branches throughout town. There is a deep undercurrent of memory and a surface veneer of present-mindedness. Hipster thirty-somethings open artisan coffee shops where twenty-somethings jack into their favorite social networks. Here and not here.
There is a sense of pageantry. B*ATL concluded just as we arrived in town. The organization sponsored a week of celebrations, readings, reenacting and other family-friendly activities to commemorate a devastating time of sectarian tensions in the nation's past. There is a feeling that amnesia lurks around every corner. If we can't make history fun, no one would want to learn about it.
I don't know whether this is true. And I have much exploration ahead of me. I am looking forward to meeting colleagues in Georgia State's Heritage Preservation Program, to dipping my fingers and toes into the shadowed waters of the Atlanta-area history scene.
|Posing with the Colonel Sanders statue at the Sanders Cafe in Corbin, KY|