Smoke sputters out of the taxi into the darkness. It’s quiet and the air is humid against my skin as I step out of the cab, somewhere in the middle of this labyrinth that is Athens. I feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t feel like Athens here.
My dad is nervous to let “his little girl” go. I can see it in his worried dark blue gaze. He shoves extra green bills my way and gives me a big hug as his eyes get glossy. They are off to the airport, back home, back to America.
I have to admit that I’ve been a snob. I didn’t grow up traveling in the U.S. and I was proud of it. The majority of my travels had always been international. From North Carolina, it was strictly limited to short drives to South Carolina, Tennessee, and the yearly flights out to Southern California to visit family friends. I’ve spent far more time traveling in the Caribbean, Europe, and South America than in my own country.
We are trucking through Alabama in my red convertible VW Cabrio. It’s been nothing but green grassy fields. Music is filling my ears and the miles start adding up. Everything is going smoothly, when all of a sudden, I feel a pop.
New Orleans doesn’t smell like a swamp, but there is definitely something pungent about it. The air has a mass and spirit to it. You feel your body against the air as you take it all in: the cobblestone streets, people strolling, and music everywhere. A city full of stories to tell.
Growing up three hours away, I never gave it much credit, but Atlanta is really stepping it up. It has managed to hang on to its sweet southern tones, and mix in some authentic international influence.
Tonight we head to Eclipse de Luna, an out of the way Spanish restaurant that is hidden behind of a long string of home décor shops. All the shops are now closed for the day, and we are driving through the dark for several minutes.