10/24/07

Thursday's Child Has far To Go

Cool weather reminds me of Atlanta. Starting at 21, I hung my hat there for a few years, staying in a series of rented rooms and mill shacks in dirty, druggie, crackhead and punk filled Cabbagetown. And, of course, I fuckin loved it.

I worked in the kind of pizza places where the ability to carry a keg or work with a beer buzz rated as high as being able to throw a pie. We made a decent cash in tips from the jar on the counter - once, two guys put in $50 total because the other cook and I beat them in a chugging contest, standing right there on the line in the open kitchen. But when your restaurant closes at eleven, you've been drinking with your coworkers since nine, and there are four bars within two blocks that are open until four and friendly to pizza guys, well, cash in hand seldom makes it home.

I lasted through a couple of harsh summers - it may be north of here, but all that concrete and steel holds heat like an oven - but nothing I hadn't felt before. But lingering cold and snow that sticks for a couple days? All new to me. Most of the time I lived there, my car didn't work and I couldn't afford to have it fixed, so I got around by MARTA ("it's smarta!") and boot leather. When the temperature drops like this, I remember walking out of the pizza joint after a shift into a freezing drizzle, my spiked-and-patched hoodie zipped tight and a knit cap down over my short mohawk. My glasses would fog from the temperature change. On busy nights, sweat would steam off my shoulders as I hunched them to keep my body warmer. I'd walk down to Gravity Pub for a couple shots to fortify me against the trip home and then head down the street, past liquor stores and cash checking places, toward my own little bed. I saw drug deals and fights and, on a couple occasions, had to duck into a dark corner for a minute when shooting started up nearby.

Sure, I got scared sometimes, little ol' country mouse me. But every fall, my body remembers the city and it's all I can do not to drag my old duffel out of the closet, lace up my boots, and head north to wander the streets again. Maybe this is the year.

7 comments:

juancho said...

Oh yeah, Cabbagetown and Little Beirut. murky lurky corners of ATL, definitely not in Buckhead anymore.

All the same country mouse, why leave when you got it so good?

downtown guy said...

My inborn laziness and my inborn wanderlust are in constant battle.

juancho said...

better inborn than inbred.

Anonymous said...

if we could just muster up the energy (and cashola) we could see SCOTS at the earl...

unca b

Ms. Moon said...

Oh my boy! It's so good that I only know these things now. Gunfire?
Well.
What a very nice piece of writing. Such good images.
I think we both have conflicted feelings about wandering far from home.
Whatever and wherever, though, you know where the heart and home are...Love you.

downtown guy said...

There's a reason you're only just hearing some stories now.

Ms. Moon said...

And some stories I need to never know.
Denial may not be a river in Egypt, but it's a river of life I can float peacefully down.
Love you...Your mama