June 13, 2010 - 10:30 PM
I am a product of the Pacific Northwest. I must say that it is quite nice having a roommate who is also from Oregon so that during times of southern culture shock, we can find solace in our understanding of the extreme beauty of the moderate climate we call home.
I have officially finished my first week living in Atlanta. The first couple of days weren't so bad weather wise. I was starting to laugh at all of the countless warnings I had received prior to departure. However, the past few days gave me a more proper taste of what it's like to live in 90+ degree weather with very high humidity. It rained once in the middle of the week. I thought this would be refreshing. Instead, the heavy rain just sat on the ground, slowly turning into hot steam. One morning I left my house to walk to work and I could physically see the air. By the time I reached the office, I had to go grab some paper towels to dry off. I find I have to change my clothes several times throughout the day as they become soaked with humidity and sweat.
I now understand why all of us Pacific Northwesterners are such weather snobs. We really do live in the ideal. However, despite the fact that it may seem awful to saunter around experiencing mild heat exhaustion on a daily basis, I am actually oddly quite enjoying it. Every part of this trip, including the weather, adds to the overall experience.
I am getting to know my neighborhood pretty well. It is actually a very cool part of Atlanta. I live right near the Little Five Points neighborhood, which is known to be the "hippie" part of Atlanta. Go figure that the two Oregonians would find their home there. There are so many fun little shops and incredibly tasty looking restaurants. Another nearby neighborhood with shops and more eating is Highlands. Highlands is right near The Carter Center, so it has also become the home of many intern meet ups after work.
Our neighborhood is also surrounded by tons of green space. My roommate and I went walking on this bike and pedestrian path throughout Pioneer Park the other day and it was very nice. It apparently goes on for several miles. It reminded me a lot of the river trail in Eugene that goes through Alton Baker Park and all over.
Once during the week, the interns also took a lunch break together downtown to the famous, greasy, world's largest drive-in restaurant, The Varsity. It has been featured on The Food Network and was quite the experience. There is a lot of yelling and a lot of fried things. The man who was my cashier was excited that it was my first time there and so put a Varsity paper hat on my head and forced me to add a large sweet tea and a frozen orange to my fries and hot dog order. It was all very intense.
I spent this weekend hanging out with some of the interns as well. Some of us attempted to go watch the USA vs. England game of the World Cup at a nearby sports bar, but it was so packed and hot that we ended up leaving for other adventures. We ended up spending the day festival hopping. We went to one called the Art-B-Que in Avondale Estates (suburb of Atlanta). It was very reminiscent of the Saturday Market. A lot of the art at the event was incredible. I could definitely notice a unique southern style to the various paintings and mixed media arts that we saw at the festival. I ended up buying some beautiful hand-painted earrings from a local artist named Afi Green.
Next, we went to another festival in Reynoldstown, which is down the street a bit from Little Five Points. It was the 2010 Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival. This festival was a lot smaller than the previous one and was just tucked away on a couple of streets and in a little park in a neighborhood. I learned from some of the local interns that it is very common during the summer for there to be these types of small festivals throughout tons of neighborhoods in Atlanta. All of them bring great art, great music, and greasy foods. We listened to a lot of wonderful local bands play on the little stage set up there and it was great to sweat in the hot sun, people watching. One other intern and I even started a hippie dance revolution. No one seemed to be dancing, so the two of us went up there and flailed our arms about and spun in some circles and next thing we knew, everyone was joining. Hippie dancing in the South - priceless. There was an amazing sense of community at this festival that made me smile. One of my favorite bands was the Soulphonics & Ruby Velle. As for the greasy foods, I ended up trying deep fried pickles for the first time! I have to admit that they actually weren't bad, but that you can only really eat a couple without feeling too nauseous. I will train my stomach lining to eat anything fried by the end of this trip. The next few that have been recommended to me by locals are deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and deep-fried green tomatoes. I'll let you know how that goes.
After lounging on the grass in the heat, listening to some fabulous bluegrass for several hours, the interns spontaneously decided that a night out in Athens, Georgia needed to happen. Next thing I knew, we were on the freeway, headed about an hour out of Atlanta to Athens, home of the University of Georgia. We had a great night and got to walk around the city and campus a bit in the morning. It was definitely quite a college town!
I am excited to continue to get to know Atlanta and other parts of Georgia during the next nine weeks of my internship. There is definitely something cozy about the South.