Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eat, Pray, Blog?

David and I are headed to Key West tomorrow, and as my friend Laura noted, “Blog material for years.”

Somehow I think Laura knows something about Key West that I don’t -- I’m thinking Hemingway House? the Dry Tortugas? museums about Conquistadors? cigars? abandoned Hawk missiles from the Crisis of 1962? Topless beaches? and maybe, just maybe some piracy? Am I gonna be surprised?


I’ll take pictures….

I haven’t blogged in a week -- life has been sluggish… all that rain, some good books, and I found myself close to home, and doing what I do. Tallulah is getting big and bad. Keats has mastered the left paw in Tallulah’s face. Tallulah has mastered the forward body slam into the philodendron.

Meanwhile ….

My nephew told a friend of mine that “Aunt Harriett’s blog is not a blog; I don’t know what it is.”

When I asked him about it -- he said, “When I think of blogs, I think of someone’s thoughts on medicine, politics, or religion. Your blog is not a blog -- I don’t know what it is, but it is not a blog. I’ll give it this -- it’s stylized."


So what is my blog?

Wingate: It’s a journey. When you read your blog, you go on a journey with you. …like riding in the car beside you and listening to you talk.

Jess: I hope it’s the start of some short story writing. I hope it’s the start of something.

Shelley: It’s like being in your classroom, but better, No essays, no note-taking, just listening….

Pam: I just hear your voice. I hear you telling that story.

Me: Hmm. So what am I doing? Let me know, readers, other than my nephew, if you know what this is… meanwhile……

About this book….

I have heard from a lot of my friends, and I read reviews, but the bottom line was that I needed to read this book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

So I read it.

I liked it.

Gilbert’s work weaves a combination of travelogue, self-discovery, soul searching, and cultural information as she takes a year off from her life and visits Italy, India, and Bali to recover from a nasty, emotional divorce.
I found her contemplation of divinity, what is true happiness, and her clear description of people, food, and places a good read -- but not a fast one. She‘s a gifted writer - she knows how to connect with her readers by expressing her insecurities, her inability to sometimes get “divinity“ as others seem to, and her frankness with her struggles and setbacks.
When I started the work, I was taken a little aback by her pursuit of her “guru,” but she won me over by the end. I admire her for her gumption, her recovery, and her ability to sort out what really matters by the end. I think what she got to do is what a lot of us would like to do -- but we don’t because we can’t afford it, don’t have the necessary connections, or we have too many commitments and responsibilities here. I always think of the human nature in me, maybe in all of us, to run away when life gets tough. Gilbert gets to -- and it looks like it made her able to come back… and start anew….

Bruce Springsteen sang clearly about our innate desire to sometimes walk away from our stressful lives in “Hungry Heart…”

I always loved that song -- :)

I keep a reading journal for myself; I record lines, phrases, commentaries from writers that make me ponder -- Gilbert doesn’t really tell anything new -- she just puts it all together well.

Here are a few from her novel that I loved:

“We can only see ourselves in still water not running water.”

“If we truly knew all the answers in advance to the meaning of life, the nature of God, and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity -- it would just be a prudent insurance policy.”

“Happiness is a consequence of personal effort. You have to participate in the manifestation of your own blessings -- you have to maintain it.”

Word. Gilbert. Word.

See you guys in a week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Anita Diamant: Part II of "I Wish I'd Brought My Slicker"

The Margaret Mitchell Museum is actually a storefront that sits to the left of the Margaret Mitchell house. It all faces busy Peachtree Street, and as the four of us made our way in the lobby, a volunteer approached us, checked our name from the list, and nodded the way to the presentation area -- a good size room that held about 150 chairs.

The walls were stark white -- the black metal ceiling held track lighting -- and the place was as austere as a warehouse, quite the contrast to the cozy warm bookstore where I saw two authors in July.

Two tall gray columns blocked some seating, or at least you would have to crane your neck a little either way to see around it, so Celia and I made our way to the sixth row, center aisle left. We took two of the five seats and saved two for Marilyn and Linda who were joining the Margaret Mitchell Museum as members in order to receive discounts on future events.

As Celia and I talked, I took in the surroundings.

Again, mostly women, and again, the crowd is older. This time, however, the male population was represented but less than 10%. Dressed better, this group to see Diamant wore bold colors, silks and cottons and linens, a strong colorful scarf slung across the shoulder here, a flashy black and white ensemble there, and plenty of diamonds and name brand watches adorned the arms and fingers of the Diamant fans.

Cars whizzed by outside, slinging water at the windows, a man sold beer and wine at 5 dollars for a measly two ounces in a plastic cup as well as soft drinks and water for two dollars a pop. The room buzzed and hummed with conversation, laughter, and anticipation.

Out the right side of the room was a double door with a view of the Margaret Mitchell historical house, nicely renovated and preserved for posterity. Red brick, black metal encased windows showing lacy curtains, beige gabled front for the roof, the house was unremarkable -- modesty and simplicity its focal point. Even the green hedge that surrounded it showed it for what is was --- just a house with a memorable, historical tenant.

As a reader of Gone with The Wind as a child, I am familiar with a black and white photo of a young Mitchell sitting at her typewriter as she tapped out GWTW, and the apartment where she wrote the novel is situated on the back, and I think, two flights up.

I did think of that photo and Mitchell as I looked out the window and imagined what the house looked like in the 1930’s. Frankly, it’s beyond my imagination since the looming, enormous white marbled office building dwarfs the house from across 14th Street. Incongruent, anyone?

But I digress.

After an introduction by a museum volunteer and a round of applause for the graphic designer who did the programs, Anita Diamant approached the Plexiglas podium with a glass of water and a smile on her face.

Wearing a black long shift, red sweater, and her neckline boosting a gold medallion with matching small gold hoops in her ear, Diamant looked like an instructor --erudite, articulate, and witty, she could easily be a college professor or an news analyst.

Small in stature, glasses perched on her nose, she immediately addressed the crowd in a lovely voice with “thanks for coming out in the rain to see me. It really makes no sense.”

We laughed, and then she told us she would read from her book Day After Night, and then take questions at the end from the audience. When she asked if anyone had read the book, only one woman raised her hand and Diamant quipped, “well, it is brand new.”

LOL -- I couldn’t tell if she was disappointed.

Diamant set up the reading of excerpts from Day After Night by telling of how the idea of the story came up to her in 2000. She was in Israel with her fifteen year old daughter and accompained her daughter and her high school classmates on field trips. One field trip was to in interment camp in Israel of which Diamant said, "was little known outside of Israel."

After WW II, the British set up this camp in Palestine to deal with the influx of refugees and immigrants who fled Europe and sought asylum in Israel. The historical event that the book tells of is the miracle escape of 200 of them across the Mediterranean in October of 1945. Diamant emphasized that this was an immigrant problem, not a continued horror of what had happened in those other places.

Diamant focuses the fictional novel on four girls, victims of trauma who were facing an uncertain future -- a situation that perhaps forces them to bond, at least on some level.

She read passages from the novel beginning with the prologue and then proceeded to read short snippets about each of her main characters, all young women.

One lovely lady to my left, silver gray hair, dressed in black ankle cotton pants, turquoise jacket, and thick silver jewelry at her neck and arm, listened to Diamant’s reading with a copy of the novel in her lap. As Diamant read, she tapped the novel with her finger and nodded her head.

At the end, Diamant answered questions. One reader asked about how she came up with the four characters, and she admitted her characters were make-believe but loosely based on characters that she had perhaps read elsewhere. For her, character names were a very difficult part of pulling the novel together as she found herself changing the names of them as she progressed in writing their stories.

I thought, "Egads, that would be so hard to have to go back and change them throughout all those pages. Imagine how many times the name would be used.”

She also told us that she did research and actually able to interview one of the detainees at Atlit. This woman remembered very little, and Diamant noted that she got only “one and half pages of notes, which is very little from an interview like that.”

She also said that she had come to a conclusion about the generation who survived the horrors of WWII. She said they were ashamed to have been the one to live instead of their mother, father, or brother who were somehow more deserving than themselves. She added, “they were encouraged to move forward. Memory is the enemy of happiness.”


Unlike the modern world which is all about memoirs, confessions, and therapy.


When she's writing a novel, she will not read fiction. She said, “I don’t want to somehow take a turn of phrase, an idea, or a thought from what I am reading and somehow believe it was mine.”

Another question came up about how she wrote -- what was her approach. She answered, “When I start writing, I hope it has an end.”

We all laughed. She then added, “I do know where it ends - I just hope I can get to it.”

“I don’t want to read grim books," Diamant told us, “People [coming back to life after this type of trauma] “must find their sense of humor again.”

Amen. I know I look for it everywhere -- and my trauma is sometimes the grocery store.

In reference to questions about her novel The Red Tent and The Harbor, she wanted us to know: “Women’s stories are untold in history until the last century. That’s why they are my focus.”

She wrapped up her remarks, so she could get to the book purchasing and the signing, [as my friend Celia said -- she’s here to sell books], with a cute poem from Billy Collins titled “Envoy.”

She says that Collins is not taken too seriously because he is accessible, but she finds his verse right on the money. (no pun intended)

I felt smart listening to her.

I told the other three that I had no desire to read this book.

They were all, "why? I think it sounds so good."

I answered that I've read enough novels about interment camps, the Holacaust, the concentration camps, and the abuse and atrocities that comes about with such cruelty -- I don't think I need this one too.

They had me three to one.....

I'd rather read another book by her -- perhaps The Last Days of Dogtown.

Regardless, this is so my thing... listening to writers and being happy that I am a blogger.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I wish I'd brought my slicker.

You remember my telling you that Marilyn and I made a pact about taking advantage of activities, festivals, authors, and "Anything Free, I'm All Over It" since we retired?

If not, you need to catch up on this blog. I haven't got time to reblog that. What do you think I am? A school teacher?

I don't think reblog is a word.

Last night, Marilyn, her friend Linda, my friend Celia, and I headed downtown to hear the author Anne Diamant read from her new book, Day After Night. Scheduled to speak at the Margaret Mitchell Museum at 7'oclock, we decided to beat the traffic, get there early, and grab a bite to eat at one of the cute little eateries around the corner there on Peachtree.

We met at Barnes and Noble parking lot at five o'clock--- how appropriate for two ex-teachers and two librarians, [Celia and Linda are librarians].

On the way over on Barrett Parkway, I noticed the darkening skies and thought, "I should have brought my slicker."

Marilyn offered to drive the four of us, and the night got off to an inauspicious start when I couldn't get out of my car, much less in to Marilyn's, without a good soaking. Umbrella dropping rain down my back, sandals squishing, and the bottoms of my light colored pants soaked to the knee, I thought -- so much for trying to look nice. Eh. Looking nice is always overrated.

I got in the car and said, "This is why old people don't go anywhere. It's a hassle when the rain gods are against it."

Marilyn nodded and noted, "I hope you know how to get there."

Me: Oh sure.

We got on 575 then 75 and the driving was treacherous. Cars slamming on brakes, 75 north backed up for miles, cop car lights and emergency vehicles lights flashing here and there, rain hitting the windshield in buckets like it was slung by the fire brigade, and the lines on the road hard to see, Marilyn buckled down like the captain of the Andrea Gail and drove us to the 10th street exit.

Marilyn: Is this the right exit?
Me: I think so.
Linda: I have Internet on my phone, but I've never use it. I don't think I know how.
Me: Crank it up. Learning curve.
Celia: I'm sure this is right. This exit. I think it's right. It looks right.

So,we get off the exit and we are packed in like sardines with the commuters trying to get the heck out of Dodge City and fight our way over the bridge and onto 10th street and to the Margaret Mitchell house. Cars and buses clogging the way, traffic lights out, and pedestrians fighting the weather and the cars, the scoot over the bridge took fifteen minutes.

So naturally, since we were guessing where the Margaret Mitchell house was and we didn't have the address, we missed our turn -- so we did some Alabama lefts until we got Linda's cell phone to google the address and get us on the right path.

Marilyn: I knew we should have turned back there.
Me: Uh, where did all of these building come from? They weren't here the last time I was down here.
Linda: Lookee! I got the MM's house address. It's on Peachtree.
Me: I knew it was on Peachtree.
Marilyn: I knew I should have turned back there.

So in the pouring rain, four suburbanites did the battle and accidentally ended up where they were supposed to be with an hour to spare.

Marilyn: I'm gonna park here. It's right in front of the museum.
Me: No, park around back.

Rain pouring down like mad, we parked in the back, get out our respective umbrellas, and walk over to Taco Mac for some good bar food before the reading.

Me: I should have brought my slicker.
Marilyn : Bwhaha. What are you? In third grade?
Me: Well, what do you call it?
Marilyn: A rain coat.
Me: But it's not a rain coat -- it's a slicker -- rain wear-- raincoats have pockets, liners, and are made by people like London Fog and are worn by professional exhibitionists.

I crossed the street without the crossing light.
Well, there was nobody coming. I was totally by myself as the other three waited on the opposite corner.

Those three: We are done following you.
Me: Don't blame you. If you had listened to me, we'd be in Decatur.
Marilyn: We also would have been parked right in front of the museum.
Me: But it has a meter.
Celia: I don't think you have to pay after 5.
Me: *shrugs*

There was no doubt that following anything I said that night was wrong. I couldn't find the museum, I advised us to park in the parking lot, and I was crossing streets without the pedestrian crossing lights. I was living on the edge. What was wrong with me?

*thumps head*

After a round of some good bar food, ice tea, and a pumpkin beer [Linda has a Taco Mac card with some kind of drinking all kinds of different beer and she wins a free beer or something], we headed over to see Anne Diamant.

And since it was still raining, I wished I had brought my slicker.

This is a slicker. This is what I have.

At least, I didn't say "oilskin."


For you, Marilyn...

Part II of I Wish I Brought My Slicker, later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bone Anne, the Librarian

Instead of inspiring me to write, the rain has made me super sleepy. So, I will start this post and see where I end.

Actually, air makes me sleepy. It's the lack of the regular schedule and knowing that I don't have to do anything.

Today, I walked the trails at Kennesaw Mountain with two friends. We got soaked in a downpour. I felt like a kid -- I just didn't care that I was wet.

Hubby: Did you have a towel?
Me: No.
Hubby: Did you get the car seats wet?
Me: Mostly my clothes were wet.
Hubby: Make sure that you wipe the seats off with a towel. That is bad for the leather.
Me: That car is eleven years old.
Hubby: It doesn't look a day over three.
Me: I'm glad your concern is so well placed.
Hubby: You dry off nicely.
Me: Aww, thanks sweetie. That means a lot.

*rolls eyes*

I had intended to head to the bank and the library, but I had to come home and change clothes. I decided to also go to the grocery store.

There was nothing funny at Publix today except the discussion I had with the bag boy about my "green" bags. I'm not sure he's a fan of them. When I handed them to him, he was reluctant about taking them, and I guess, wanted to make me aware of what a pain they were to him.

Me: You don't need to put jugs of anything in those bags.
Bag boy: [holds up orange juice] Like this?
Me: Yes. That's a jug.
Bag boy: [holds up tonic water] This?
Me: No, that's not a jug; please bag it.
Bag boy: [holds up milk]
Me: Yes, that's a jug too. Just leave it.
Bag boy: Here?[places it back on checkout counter]
Me: No, put in the buggy but not in the bag.
Bag boy: [puts it in buggy] Like this?
Me: Yes.

We had a conversation like that about everything that wasn't a jug. I had five jugs -- orange juice, milk, V-8, tea, and apple juice. Yet, he wanted to ask me about everything that wasn't a jug. [Where are you, Harold?]

*pokes eye out with debit card*

I was worn out. He made me want to take a nap.

I also went to the public library which is usually the hub of the unemployed. Today, it was eerily quiet. No lines -- no impatient unemployed tapping their foots waiting for a turn at the computers and the Internet.

I have a friend in Colorado who is looking for a job, and one of the ways she cut back financially is to stop her Internet. She goes to the public library, and when she has a moment, she goes on the General Hospital message board and posts comments. Apparently, her librarian can smell "unauthorized" use of the Internet from fifty paces. If I catch her on, I try to help her get in trouble by posting nearly nude pictures of our soap star. Heh. I'm that kind of friend.

[Don't ask me where I got them.]

Librarians -- they have always been a different breed of people. When I was teaching at Douglas County High School (my first teaching job), the librarian there was known for her stealthy ways. Her name was Anne Bone. Because she had this innate sense of students off task in the library, she could zero in on them before they knew she was coming.

Anne was about five feet four and weighed in at about 100 pounds -- but she was in her fifties and close to retirement when I was teaching there in the late 1970's. She has short cropped hair and these gray eyes that could cut a rope in two with a good stare. She was ghostly she was so quiet.

She wore long skirts and blouses with matching long strands of necklaces that never made a noise. She also wore dangle earrings and lots of bangles -- also mute. How did she keep her jewelry quiet?

Her husband rode a Harley, and students who knew that about her would fall into giggles imagining her and her long skirts sitting behind him on that machine, eyes focused on the road, and the motorcycle putting out all that noise.

She just didn't seem like a woman capable of such adventure and daring.

As a teacher who was part of the staff, she scared me too. When I took my students to the library, she would give me these "hairy" looks like she knew I could not possibly keep my students supervised, and at times, it was like keeping thirty corks under water or playing Whack a Mole.

One time when my students were unruly, she reported me to the principal like I was a third grader. I guess her "chillin'" way kept her from addressing me directly -- or maybe, she wasn't sure I was really a teacher. That happens when you are young yourself in the classroom -- the veterans on staff just don't want to fool with you . .. to her, I was part of the problem.

I'm sure I was. I was young and giggly and trying to be quiet can only instill more guffaws from me.

The students were spooked by her -- cause she wore rubber soled shoes and would sneak up behind them and touch them with a bony finger on the shoulder or arm or hand, and then look them dead in the eye, place a finger to her lips, and go "Shhhh. Great authors need serenity."


The students called her Bone Anne, the Librarian.


Regardless of her rather steely ways, the woman knew the library, periodicals, and research.

When I was working on my Masters in the early 80's, I sometimes would do research in the school library, which she had coddled over her years as head librarian and amassed a respectable set of periodicals.

When I would come in frazzled with the weight of teaching full time and attending night classes at West Georgia, she would take the topic, and maybe she would drool a little, but she would say quietly, "let me do the preliminary work for you." When I would check back with her, she would have pulled references from all kinds of places and saved me hours of work.

One time, my tears of gratitude made her smile a little. She was a fount of information, and if she couldn't find it, she would tell me exactly where I could find it in another library.

Even with her unusual patrolling of the library and her cool demeanor, I will only remember her fondly.

She died of cancer in the early 1990s. I know she would hate the computerness of the libarary today and the fact that it has been renamed the Media Center.

Rest easy, Anne.

Rain and the library .. it made me reflective.

ETA: That's a picture of DCHS.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What's in your storage space?

According to an article in the New York Times magazine, the United States has 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space. One in ten Americans has rented storage space.

*scratches head*

That seems like a lot.

*goes back to doing whatever it is that I do*

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Potato in Your Mouth: Wedding Day 1

Bridesmaid’s Luncheon -- in Roswell at Mitty’s Tea Room.

We had tea and lunch. We had lots of lunch -- and I ate it all. Mitty’s puts on a spread --- quiche, croissant stuffed with blue cheese chicken salad, chocolate muffin, fruit, and, of course, four kinds of hot tea. It’s always about the food -- and the food was delicious. I ate it all including the garnish.

My niece married a young man from Germany, and his family, of course, came all this way to the wedding.

The mom, sister, and aunt were at the Bridesmaid’s Luncheon. The mom and sister speak pretty good English, but the aunt not so much, even though she spent some time in Richmond, Virginia, twenty five years ago, of which she remembered quite a bit about -- it was lovely to hear her say “Richemom.”

Any who…

At the bridesmaid luncheon, I sat across from the aunt and next to the sister.

We were each given a party favor -- a bag with an antique cup and saucer and wine coasters. This particular American custom needed to be explained to the Germans. Needless to say, I don’t explain well. How do you explain a party favor?

Aunt: What is party favor?
Me: It’s a gift given to you by the host. It’s a gift of appreciation to you for joining and celebrating the party at hand.
Aunt: Party at hand?
Me: The current party.
Aunt: Current?
Me: Bottom line -- it’s a reason to shop.
Aunt: A reason?
Me: An excuse to spend money.
Aunt: I see.
Me: Do you?
Aunt: No.
Me: *shrugs* Just take it -- it’s yours -- it’s a memento, a souvenir, a remembrance of her wedding.
Aunt: Souvenir?
Me: It’s better than a t-shirt.
Aunt: I need a shirt?

Seriously, I was lousy at this -- my sister-in-law was much better at explaining things. I felt like a pretty lousy teacher at this point -- I couldn’t explain a party favor? To think I spent all those years trying to explain Faulkner and Hardy. No wonder the kids were always puzzled.


Later, I asked the sister about speaking English.

Sister: It’s like talking with a potato in your mouth.

Is that because we have so many long a’s?
I dunno.

My conclusion -- I spent thirty three years explaining literature with a potato in my mouth.


Next was the rehearsal dinner at Six Feet Under on 11th Street in Atlanta.

My niece’s rehearsal dinner was not typical sit down dinner at a fancy restaurant.

David and I were the first to arrive. We were met at the front by Hank who took us up a narrow flight of stairs to the deck on the top of the restaurant -- and we were shown where our section was. We had these ten tables, each with its own umbrella.

Me: We’re up here?
Hank: Yes.
Me: Oh.
David: Get me a beer.

To the left of us was the skyline of Atlanta .

To the left front a windmill.

Brother:[nods at windmill] Tax credit.

To the right a cell tower.

Brother: Look.[holds up cell phone] Six bars.

The roof gave us the advantage of watching the other guests arrive. As they exited their cars, we “halloed” at them ,and puzzled, they looked up to see us waving from the roof.

So, that was the tone --- festive and casual with much mingling about-- no stuffy formal affair at all.

We sat up on the rooftop of a restaurant named for having its original business next to Oakland Cemetery. Grim? Not at all -- funny.. or it was to me...

The party was for about fifty people -- so we yakked it up, drank wine and beer, and ate fish tacos, fried shrimp, chicken fingers, salad, coleslaw, baked gourmet potato chips, and jalapeƱo poppers. All of this topped off with brownies made by the caterer who made the wedding cake. Yum.

As the sun set, the view of Atlanta was breathtaking -- the sun bounced off the towers, the conversation got louder, and the laughter more raucous.

David asked the groom’s father if he was getting good shots of Atlanta on his camera.

Groom’s Dad: Shots?
David: Yes of Atlanta.
Groom’s Dad: Atlanta? Shots? Help?
David: Photos -- taking shots -- the pictures……… we call them shots because each individual picture is quick like a shot….so…..

It was David’s turn to interpret ---- and he also thought he was deaf. LOL.

I blame it on the potato in his mouth.

We checked out at 10...and the bachelors and the bachelorettes were headed elsewhere…and the highlight of that story is that one of the groom’s brothers got separated from the others and spent the night in a parking lot in downtown Atlanta in his brother’s car.

That’s all I know -- and all I need to know.

The bride and her friend, Sarah, at Six Feet Under.


I don't know if it's the result of the wedding festivities or what, but I have been ill for the past five days.

Yep. Really ill.

I have slept more than I have been awake.

It's been weird.

By the time I feel like blogging about the wedding, I will have forgotten everything.

That might be a good thing.


Thursday, September 3, 2009


Going to the airport is really okay by me -- as long as I am not in a hurry and as long as I don’t have to park and fly anywhere myself. Flying makes me whacked for some reason. I believe it's a deep-seated life neuroses that somehow ties into being the youngest child and my mother going back to work when I attended kindergarten. A sort of crazy abandonment issue ....

I diagnosed that myself, so I am sure it is right.

Anyway, David and I headed out to the airport at 8 to pick up my nephew who is flying in from Houston for my niece’s wedding.

Atlanta had an almost full moon; it peaked out from behind some wispy clouds, and the whole evening had a hint of autumn in the air.

The cool day had already inspired me to open the windows at the house and made Keats and Tallulah froggier and crazier. They ran from room to room, springing into the open windows, fur bunched and tail thick with anticipation of the smells of outside. At one point I looked up, and Tallulah was spread-eagle on the screen, her face plastered against the leaf of a fichus plant sniffing it like it was cat crack.

The cross ventilation cooled the house and brought in the myriad sounds of outside.

The ride down I-75 was full of human activity. Each car we passed, I wondered who they were, where they were going, and why at that time. I saw a van, packed to the frame with children and boxes -- the back window view obscured for the driver by a huge stuffed animal splayed across the venue. Another car, identified by David as the new Camaro, was blaring music, its occupants heads nodding and tapping to the beat, its ride low,its windows down, its color a bright orange. The night felt electric, full of purpose or prospect.

Sun-roof back, I assimilated to my surroundings and sucked them in like an elixir.

Downtown Atlanta is the most beautiful at night. Once we met the intersecting of I-75 and I-85, the tall buildings lined each side of the road, their many windows lit, and their tops blazoning the logos of law firms, television stations, hotels, and Fortune 500 companies - -- each in colors soothing to the eye like each architect considered his neighbor as he determined their shape, their design, and their size.

I saw the bright red V of the Varsity as we hustled down the interstate smack dab in the middle of the seven lanes packed with traffic, moving but tight, and an occasional wild driver who changed lanes with his heartbeat.

Me: Where do you suppose are all these people going?
David: Home.
Me: I like to think it is more exciting than that -- to a rendezvous, a romantic destination, a reunion, a fabulous place to eat, or the theater.
David: If they were smart, they would be at home sitting in front of their television and watching the US Open.
Me: Boring -- it’s more exciting to be out and going somewhere.
David: Like the airport?
Me: Like the airport.

We sped past a darkened Turner Field, the tunnels empty, the lights on low, and the crowd somewhere else.

As we got to the south of Atlanta, which is where I grew up, I always marvel at the changes, and how my parents, dead almost fifteen years, would not recognize it. Lakewood Freeway has been renamed Lankford Parkway. The old bungalows that used to hang on the hills overlooking “the expressway” have been razed for apartments and condos, a lone holdout the only familiar one. The kudzu, however, still clings fiercely to the banks like aphids.

We zoomed to 85 where we headed to Camp Creek Parkway and to the Atlanta Airport.

I called my nephew and told him we were five minutes out, and he, answering my call, told me he was on the train, as I imagined torpedoing in the bowels of the airport to be spit out at baggage claim.

We waited for him under the bright lights of the terminal, the car idling, and I stepped out of the car and finally spotted him, a tall, young, grown man, coming to his cousin’s wedding sporting khaki' s, a gray pin-striped button down, and designer shoes -- no longer the tow-headed young boy who giggled and said multi-syllabic words at the age of two. Coming from his corporate job, he looked like a business man except for the Dr. Dre headphones he donned on his head for airplane travel. (I don’t know if he said Dr. Dre, Dr. Dread, or Dr. Doolittle.)

I called his name, but I had a longer time to look at him before he saw me since his ears were still cut off from the sounds around him by the headphones.

Grown. Adult. Independent. Confident.

On the way back from the airport, I had no time to contemplate the sights in front of me. We chatted up about his flight, his life, his comments about the bureaucracy of working for a large company with a new C.E.O -- and of course, his new headphones which he proudly allowed David and me to try.

They were awesome, but they are totally for the young. I listened briefly to a band I didn’t know and noted that they completely obliterated outside noise.

My nephew said, “They were awesome for my 17 hour flight to Egypt where I needed to drown out the noise of the chickens.”

Me: Chickens?
Him: They don’t call it Air Bus for nothing.

That’s all I got.

ETA: Excuse the typos as I am in a hurry. :)