Sunday, March 16, 2008

Atlanta Tornadoes and Rising Up

I just wanted to give a mention here about something that has been on my mind and is not technically about being an expat. This is more of an expat pausing to care, I guess. Well this past Friday night in Atlanta, Georgia they had a terrible tornado that whipped through downtown Atlanta and tore up my old stomping ground. I am originally from Georgia and was born and raised in the surrounding rural areas outside of Atlanta. I went to university and worked in Atlanta for a number of years, so I know Atlanta well. I have always had a love for the can-do spirit of Atlanta and the friendliness of the people there. Maybe it is some of that fabled southern hospitality, who knows. Anyhoo, Atlanta is a cool place. It has lots of cultural things to do and it has lots of funky little spots and areas with live music, art, shopping, and lots to check out. So it is a nice place to hang out. And I can't forget its rich civil rights legacy under the great Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Therefore, it was so hard to see pictures online and on the news showing a part of what I knew in tatters. It seems that one of the major hits of the tornado was concentrated around the park and surrounding buildings where people were congregating that night. And it was so surreal to me because I used to work in one of those buildings surrounding the park. In the summer and spring especially, in order to get a break from the corporate air inside the building, I would go to the park or one of the other complexes across the way. It was just so strange to see where I spent most of my working life in recent years torn to shreds like that. There is a building right there that is a performance venue…an old converted church. That is where my husband and I had a date once before we were married. I am just glad that it wasn’t a worse storm. What this one did was bad enough. We are used to violent storms and tornadoes in Georgia, but you just don’t expect storms like that in a downtown area. I guess this is a lesson for me to expect the unexpected. :-)

A lot of people also either lost their homes or had their homes badly damaged in Cabbagetown which is an older area of Atlanta. So I just pray that people are able to reclaim their homes and be able to have a sanctuary again.

As an expat, I find that looking back sometimes helps with homesickness. However, when I look back I can’t help but see things through a different lens. It sort of feels cool though because I am into the experience of living in England, whilst looking back to home with a new perspective. I think that I appreciate the life in both places more. I can see them both clearly for what they are. It is cool to feel like you can call both places home. For me Georgia is my roots, my soul, my ancestors, my home…and England is the home that I share with my husband. And whether we stay here forever or for only a few more years, I will always feel this way. I don’t think that you can live a place for any amount of time and not have it leave a mark on you in some way.

I have great hope for Atlanta to rebuild as it always has. The symbol of the city, as seen on the city shield, is that of the phoenix and it is so appropriate. Atlanta came back in the past after being burned down in the 1800s and it will surely rise again after the winds of the tornado.


Chris K. Haley said...

I didn't even realize you were from the Atlanta area until I started digging through your blog. I live in Lawrenceville! What a small world...

Dori said...

That is cool! It is a small world. I was born and raised in Georgia. :)