... when you're constantly on the move, few things remain unchanged.

a is for Atlanta

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


To start this America from an outsider's perspective theme I need start with my own emigration process and I'm so glad A goes first because A has to be for Atlanta - my very first landing point in the US of A.  We lived there for three years from October 2010 to October 2013, building our home and life in the blocks between 10th and 17th streets.  These streets eventually contained my place of work, grocery store, dry cleaner, movie theater, favourite restaurants, hair and nail salons, the puppy's grooming salon and parks, the cafe I would often write at and many more things that constitute a lifestyle.  These streets became very dear to me.

As anyone will tell you, foreign emigration is hard.  Beyond hard.  It's almost impossible.  Will and I had so many rough times in Atlanta - particularly during the first year - and I lost count of the times I begun packing my things to return to Australia.  Although many of the struggles were expected (like missing my friends, family and place of work) so many frustrations became full-blown tragedies that we weren't expecting at all.  I'll never forget crying over laundry detergent.  Until that point I had taken for granted how much knowledge, trial and error and weeding out rubbish I had under my belt in terms of cleaning products back in Aus.  Or indeed how important this knowledge is when you go to a grocery store until you stare blankly at the shelves full of packages and brands that are completely alien in nature.  At that time I didn't have anyone to advise me on sauces, detergents, hygiene products, food or anything so I would often cry after a trip to the store and call my mum to vent.  After a particularly nasty tantrum involving deodorant and me crying 'they all either don't work or leave nasty marks on my clothes' she very sweetly mailed me a bulk pack of good old Nivea pure invisible.

One of the more expected struggles was the difference in lifestyle and culture, although neither Will nor myself could ever imagine it would be so great.  For an Australian who grew up in a very multicultural environment, moving to Midtown Atlanta is a guaranteed culture SHOCK.  It took me a while to realize that most American cities have variances in culture and lifestyle (each city still oddly seems to reflect the values instilled from whatever particular European colony settled it, though obviously in a more modern way) and that Atlanta itself was no firm indication of the country as a whole; but before I did realize this, I often begged Will to take us back to Aus saying I could never live in a country with such outdated and racist idiosyncrasies.

The reason for this, is that people in Atlanta live in a happy little pretentious but fragile bubble - each ignoring the massive racial divide, caused and harboured by the city's tumultuous past.  As a newcomer, this was always a big, fat, bright pink elephant in every room but (of course) once I got a job, begun to settle in and make friends, I became another one of those perfectly happy, pretentiously silent citizens - not wanting to rock the boat.

Now that we live in Austin however, I often look back at my time in Atlanta without any thought to its racial tensions or outdated policies.  What I remember are my friends, Will's family who became like my own, those beloved and very dear streets. My home.  There are many bittersweet memories of the hardship of emigration and assimilation but so many wonderful ones too as I realize the ways in which my courage grew and I became a stronger person able to let go, trust life, my husband and my own process of discovery.

Before you think I hate Atlanta let me tell you four amazing (and my favourite) things about it:    
4) it is an incredibly beautiful city with clean streets, new buildings, bright grass and flowers everywhere you look.  Actually, Atlanta is probably the most beautiful city I've been to in America.
3) its close proximity to nature: parks, mountains and lakes are all within an hour's drive from the city center
2) the four seasons.  OMG I've never, never seen four seasons that are more distinct or elaborate anywhere else in my entire existence.  This is one of the things (for sure) that adds to Atlanta's beauty.


And of course the (1) reason why those streets became so very dear to me: each one of them contains a first-time and best experience that I had in my American life, so far.  I'll write about some of these in depth throughout this challenge but here's a few for now:

First taste of Southern cuisine! I was seriously addicted to fried okra for at least the first three months!
(Thanks bos-bowl.com for this image)
First time seeing a squirrel and other native wildlife
First time on the wrong right side of the road
(although this was more terrifying than awesome)
First time seeing snow!
First time at a baseball game!
Just to name a few!

5 comments

  1. Sorry everyone for such a LONG post! Just had a lot to say on this topic and promise to keep the rest shorter :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Flew over Atlanta numerous times, but never actually visited...
    I know the feeling of the grocery store rage. Bread freaks me out. So many kinds, and all taste sweet. Also, the first time I came to the USA, I spent 3 hours in the Walmart bedding aisle, on the verge of crying... :D
    As you can tell, immigration themes have a personal interest to me. I'll be following!
    Cheers!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of Colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my gosh, WALMART is insane! I dread going there and try not to unless absolutely necessary. After almost four years in America I know my preferred brands and try to run in, grab them and out again if I go to Walmart :).
      As for bread... what's with the sugar? Some even have high fructose syrup?! I totally understand your frustration - my husband and I changed to German rye bread about a year ago because of that same issue. We don't think bread is meant to be sweet. Thanks for reading - I'll pop over and check your blogs out too :)
      -Lena

      Delete
  3. I loved Atlanta when we were there last year for a short visit. It is such a vibrant city. I have told Peter that when we decide to buy another home it should be in the Roswell/Alpharetta area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have expensive and classy taste Mrs G! Those suburbs are so beautiful with their charming town centers, boutiques and terrace houses. I LOVE Roswell but there's no way Will and I could afford to live there (just yet anyway :P)

      Delete

 

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About unwavering me

Sharing my stories of migrating from Australia to the US | travel adventures | married life | furry kids | new experiences | lessons | and loving life despite always missing home. xo.

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spring in Austin TX

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