I believe southern Black people are friendlier than those up North. In the North, there is always that awkward moment of hesitation on seeing another Black person. In Atlanta there was none. Being greeted with sparkling smiles made me sparkle inside and out.

It’s a long tale of how I ended up going to Atlanta. Let’s say it was a last minute trip, and a fortuitous one for me. Having never been to Atlanta, and being determined to relocate there, a friend suggested I visit first then dangled the prospect of looking at apartments.

On arrival, I was disappointed with the weather. It was cold! I didn’t realize the South had seasons similar to the North.  Getting an Uber to the hotel was confusing, there was construction, and I had to walk what seemed like a 1/2 mile with luggage, backpack and handbag to the Uber pickup. I didn’t know the express pool meant waiting over 20 minutes.   But the driver and a passenger waited for me, and we all waited for the third passenger who was understandably lost.  The express pool meant multiple passengers, not express service.

I wasn’t in a hurry since already I calculated missing the appointment to look at an apartment in mid-town that afternoon. In the end, the express pool turned out to be a good idea. I received a guided tour of parts of Atlanta I wouldn’t have seen on the visit. There were opportunities all over.

I didn’t give friends much notice of my arrival, so was delighted they found time for me.  On my first night, I met in person for the first time someone who since we met over 3-4 years ago on LinkedIn remains a good friend. The online friendship became real.  Sharing the activities in our lives gave me a perspective on what was missing in New England.

I can join many organizations of interest in NH, but I will likely be the only Black person in the room and feel the baggage that entailed. In Atlanta, I could connect with Black people like me.  I wouldn’t always be the only Black person, and perhaps in such an environment, I could breathe once again.  For the first time in years, a path of hope appeared.

The following day I did look at an apartment in Buckhead.   Then happily spent the rest of the day with a high school friend who I reconnected with on Facebook but had not seen in person since we graduated. Right now, I can’t think of the words to describe all the emotions I felt then and since.  We met, went for lunch then relaxed at her house with her husband–all Caribbean immigrants.    She had our High School Yearbook. I have no idea where mine was. Here was her Yearbook perfectly preserved and accessible.  Looking at the youthful faces in my graduating class was a journey in time.  From the pictures, we recalled and shared bits of our lives and the lives of past friends.  It was years worth of therapy packed into a few hours.

Going to Atlanta and reliving excerpts of the past triggered an awakening. I had overlooked many significant relationships. The trip was unexpectedly emotional. Not sure what it all means or where it will lead except to say I have clarity on my next steps. Now it’s summoning the courage and focus on executing and implementing.

Imagine finding yourself over 40 years later

Note:  My friend’s identities were deliberately concealed to protect their privacy.