Birmingham. I wish I could express the love/hate relationship I’ve had with the Magic City. If you know me now then I describe it as charming and quaint and if you move there, you’ll love it. If you knew me then you know I thought there were greener pastures and brighter skies. I wanted to live in other cities and wander down new roads and make new adventures.
I never intended on going back (FYI, I’m not. This isn’t my surprise two week notice).
People who are from small towns have it so easy. If you manage to escape, you know you are never going back. When you live next door to your grandparents and your aunt lives down the road, you know your dream is not to grab the next available house on the street. We know its home and all, but you’re plan is not to go back.
For people who grow up in bigger cities, it’s not that easy. You could come back and not run into your 5th grade Sunday school teacher at the grocery store. You can move to the place in town you always wanted to and you can beat all the traffic because you know every back road. And there’s a big difference in people who move to it and declare it as home, and those who were planted, watered and have their roots here.
But Birmingham has not always been a safe haven for me. For a really long time, it was tainted. It felt like shame and guilt were plastered everywhere. Many mistakes were made inside its perimeter. It’s where I loved people and hurt people and left people. Sometimes the other way around. Friends of mine would visit and tell me how beautiful it was, where they ate or what they did. But all I remembered were the horrible words exchanged in that park. I know the places they talk about like the back of my hand but my memories there are haunted with remorse. Or I’ve actually never been there because I was supposed to go but never made it, because sin was much more enticing.
A young artist named Taylor, perhaps you’ve heard of her, came out with an album this year and it did fairly well. Track 13 is called Clean and sometimes I play it when drive in (I know it’s cheesy, but you do strange things too sometimes so just, okay?).
Because for the first time in a long time, the fog has lifted. The darkness is gone and light’s rolled in.
Birmingham doesn’t sting when I drive through. I’m not hit with the familiar suffocating feeling. It feels clean and new. It finally feels like the home I remember.
So you win Birmingham, with your deep roots & your southern charm.
You and I are on good terms again.