I love older buildings. When I was living in New York, it was part of the reason I loved living on the upper westside. I prefer them to all the new, modern condos that are popping up in every city (probably part of the reason I am so in love with your place… aside from the fact that, you know, you are there). They’re comfy. They have character. Although the closets are small enough to make me wanna cry, the hardwood floors (SO important to me) that are usually standard issue more than make up for it. There’s a building in midtown Atlanta that I’m DESPERATELY in love with, that I’m CONVINCED I need to live in immediately. It is second only to the sprawling ranch style brick homes scattered throughout historic neighborhoods around the city. I LOVE them. (and they have porches in front and back! *wink*)
The juxtaposition of old and new in all the cities I love is interesting to me. It seems an appropriate metaphor for life.
Today I woke up and felt different. New. My steps feel solid. Confident. My heart less broken. Less weathered and beaten. Hopeful. Focused. My entire body felt electric, energetic. On fire.
My dance teacher in middle school and high school was a tiny little thing. Barely 5 feet, IF that. A fellow mixed breed woman, fiery, hair down to her ass, a low solid voice that could nail your ass to a wall at 10 feet. She rode me hard for the 6 years I knew her. Nothing was sacred. Nothing was beyond her scrutiny. Not just my dancing technique, my love life, the friends I kept, my schoolwork, my language, my focus, my clothes, my future plans, everything. She was hard on me. Finally, one day my senior year after she’d made me cry in front of my entire ballet class, I was over at her house and asked her why.
“You are so unaware of your own strength, your own resilience, and I hate it. I have watched you flourish more than any of my other students in a far more condensed time. And you don’t see it. You tread so lightly when you should be knocking everything over in your path.”
I remember staring at her with my mouth open. she was really ANGRY with me.
“Lemme tell you something about women like us,” she said. “We MAKE it. And we don’t just make it, we flourish, and we make it look easy. We make people think they can do the same. And I’m tired of you shying away from it. That’s who you are. When it comes down to it, you put your toe to the line and you go for broke because THAT’S WHAT WE DO. No excuses. We were born to do it. Half the time you spend worrying and crying about how you’re gonna make it through something, you’re blinding yourself to the fact that you’re probably already halfway through it. You’re strong. And its about time you fucking started acting like it.”
I literally didn’t utter a word to another soul for 2 days after that.
The building I love in midtown is now flanked on the right and left by a steel and glass creation that rises about 15 stories and a levelled piece of land that will, no doubt, be home to another set of condos. My building is a modest 4 floor building, a large staircase in the middle splitting cozy apartments on either side, complete with hardwood floors and big windows that face the street. Its the kinda neighborhood where I could walk honey, where we could sit on the balcony and smoke a black and people watch. Where I could open my windows and doors in the spring. In some ways, I’m sure it appears dated and old to some. But it strikes a cord with me. It has character. It means something. In stands in testament to the things that have passed.
Kinda like the scars I have from the things that have happened to me. They too stand in monument to the things, people and places I have lost. They’re not as pretty as the new shiny things that are being built, but they have character. they mean something. and really, they’re not so bad.
They are the representation of old and new, standing side by side to create the kinda neighborhood that feels like home.