Photo by Josh Sandler

Growing up in a small country town near the Florida state line, I hated everything about where I was raised. Country music, collard greens and tractor supply stores were the bane of my existence. I couldn’t wait to escape. Washing dishes in the kitchen of Shug’z House of BBQ & Blues, I dreamed of New York City, obsessed over London and fantasized about Paris. The day when I packed my bags and left for the city could not come soon enough.

It’s here that my heart will stay. If only these streets could hear me when I say thank you Atlanta.

I had been to Atlanta plenty of times growing up. The three-hour drive was a short commute for those like me who yearned for some semblance of the city life. Atlanta was nothing special, but it had enough skyscrapers, traffic jams and bums to make me forget I lived in the bowels of Georgia, if only for a moment. I had to live there, and Tech would be my excuse.

That was three years ago. Now here I sit, nearing my final semester of college, facing the possibility of leaving Atlanta for the rest of the world. It’s exactly what I always wanted and I couldn’t be more upset that my chance has come to leave.

Since the days of scraping burnt barbecue from pots and pans, I’ve had some the greatest experiences of life. Thanks to a fortunate turn of events, I’ve had the chance to visit many of these great cities, each one holding a special place in my heart. I could fill this entire newspaper recollecting the various adventures each city held for me, but there’s a common denominator that succinctly sums them all up. No matter what continent I happen to be on, what river I floated down or foreign language I stumbled through, there was one thing in the back of my mind: Atlanta. No matter where I went, I couldn’t stop thinking of Piedmont Park, Ponce de Leon or the Bank of America building piercing the night sky. The more I thought about it, the more confused I became. Why did I care so much for what I thought was some crappy city situated too far south of the Mason-Dixon Line? Once home, I thought about it daily. Like I thorn in my side, I couldn’t rid myself of the notion that Atlanta may be my favorite place this life has to offer.

There are no beachfront properties, no snow-capped mountains to sky down or theatre districts illuminating the night sky, and that’s exactly why I love it here.

There are no beachfront properties, no snow-capped mountains to sky down or theatre districts illuminating the night sky, and that’s exactly why I love it here. Atlanta is big enough to appease me, but small enough to escape. It’s the home of Chick-fil-A, Coke and CNN. Sweet tea flows from every tap. Trees outline the streets in green. Not many abroad know its name, and those in the States hardly think twice about. It’s life’s best kept secret, and I love it. More importantly, there is one reason I will always love Atlanta, no matter where my career may soon take me. Atlanta has made me the man I am today. Its here that I discovered who I was and what I wanted. Its here that gave me the opportunities that stand before me and that have changed my life in so many different ways. It’s here that my heart will stay. If only these streets could hear me when I say thank you, Atlanta.