The “ATL”

In 1999 when I packed my bags (actually now that I think of it I really did not do much packing. My family was so mad when they came to move me because they kept telling me to have my ish together.) and said goodbye to Atlanta I did not experience an overwhelming sense of sadness. I had just graduated from law school, Ally was a newborn, Sierra was eight, and I was seeking stability. Atlanta had served its purpose in my life and it was time to move on. The days of rushing to Bell Bottoms with my cousin and law school classmates to make sure we got to take full advantage of happy hour was a thing of the past (Oh, the stories I could tell…lol). No more risking my life in the West End just to “tear the club up”. No more of my beloved bean pies that I purchased from the Muslim guy on the corner. I was a mom of two who needed to pass the bar exam so that I could provide for my “young-uns” (did I spell that right?). As such, the absence of social stimulation that Windsor offered was appealing. There was nothing to distract me from making sure I accomplished the new goals I had set for myself; pass the bar exam the first time, make sure I was a damn good lawyer, and take care of my “young-uns”!

Twenty years later as I embark on this journey of self-discovery with one more little girl added to the mix, I have rekindled my relationship with the ATL(It was Atlanta when we parted ways. It’s the ATL now that we have rekindled our relationship 🙂 )! Now don’t get it wrong, my relationship with the ATL is not one that will make me pack up and relocate, but, the attraction is strong enough to make me see a number of weekend trips in my future.

For those of you out there looking for a casual relationship with a city, here are the things that made me reignite my flame with the ATL:

The ATL is rich with African-American Culture. My youngest is becoming more and more curious about our history and culture. This excites me! In order to make sure she remains interested, I am keeping my excitement in check. I cannot tell you how many times since embarking on this parenting journey that I have gotten so excited only to have one of my kids tell me “mom you are doing too much”. These conversations are usually followed by a loss of interest.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta was the perfect place to satisfy some of Gabby’s curiosity for African American history and culture. It was not too big and the crowd was minimal. I was able to fall back and let her explore at her pace. When I felt she overlooked something important I would swoop in, have a brief discussion, and swoop out. The only time I got the “mom you’re doing too much” look was when I realized the Center had an exhibit with some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s original/authentic writings. Fortunately, I was able to regroup quickly so as not to lose her. I consider this a success.

I must be honest and say, by the time we made it to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park Gabby was over all things Black History. As a result, I had to resort to my old tactics to get her to take anything in, I THREATENED HER 🙂 .

The Trap Music Museum was on Gabby’s list of places to see. Let me just say, if you are not VERRRRYYYY open minded, you probably do not want to do this with your kids. The Young Jeezy Snow Room made me gasp. The fact that a lot of women wanted to test their pole dancing skills on Cardi B’s stripping pole also sent me into a bit of a tizzy. Instead of overreacting I decided to take it all in and use this experience as an opportunity to have some very real discussions with Gabby during our quiet time at home. I also took it as an opportunity to learn more about a culture that I am not familiar with. Although I got a few “one of these things is not like the other” stares, I am glad that I had this experience with my daughter. I am strong believer that I cannot help shape the impact information has on my children if I am closed to things that are very much a part of their world. At least that is my belief.

The ATL has an abundance of food/dining options. The older I get the more conscious I am about the food that I consume. Cities like Atlanta make eating healthy easy. I was excited to savor my vegan Pad Thai noodles at the Cafe Sunflower while Gabby enjoyed her vegan Sesame Soy Chicken. It was funny to watch her inhale her meal after she announced everything looked gross on the menu. I wish I could take credit for her change of heart but it was the wonderful waitress that convinced Gabby to give the Sesame Soy Chicken a try.

Unfortunately, I did not get to return to the Soul Vegetarian this time. There are but so many vegan restaurants I can drag my family to without getting the side eye. When I return in the spring, I am absolutely not leaving the ATL without having the Slutty Vegan experience. I hear that place is DA BOMB!

The ATL is just a cool city to hang out in. If you don’t necessarily want to participate in a planned activity or tour a museum there are so many places you can just go to to grab a quick bite, have a drink, and people watch. My cousin introduced me to Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market during this trip. With a variety of drinking and dining options, these places are definitely great options when you are traveling with a group of people. Everyone can find something that they enjoy and come together to enjoy one another’s company. Ponce City Market offers the added touch of retail therapy.

I am looking forward to returning when it is a little warmer! What places do you think I should explore next time?

Much Love,

Tonza

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Author: Tonza D. Ruffin

Perfectly Imperfect but VERY PROUD WOMAN, MOM, LAWYER, and AUTHOR, but most importantly...LIFE LOVER! I laugh loud, I work hard, I play hard, I am adventurous, I am curious, I am driven, I have moments of deep insecurity, I am loving, I am vulnerable, I am explosive (not one of my finer qualities), I dance around my house alone, I am an awful perfectionist which makes my insecurity worse, I sing out loud in my car without any concern for whose watching, I have trust issues, I do not live through my children, I no longer try to force my children into the mold that I created so that I could feel validated as a mother, I am a risk-taker, I am guarded in my personal life, I am kind, I am grateful. I am so excited about the rest of my life!

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