Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Feeling for Roots in Piedmont Park
"I like to get dirty. Do you like to get dirty? I like to cause trouble. I like to cause trouble, but only in the most sweet way."
I make the trek to Piedmont Park most weekends to run my hands through the grass and press my toes into the dirt. In this urban jungle that is Atlanta, my rural East Tennessee spirit finds solace in the slow moving beetles climbing and shifting through the leaves of grass.
When I first came to Atlanta, I searched endlessly, like the beetle, for a place to call home. What I realize now is that no matter how hard you look, you'll inevitably simply sink into comfort. It's the ease at which it happens that surprised me most. It's the folks working at the Mediterranean bodega recognizing me; it's the in depth conversations with strangers at Flying Biscuit; it's the ritualistic spot where I always sit and feel at the roots of trees in Piedmont Park.
It's this sense of belonging that, for me, spurs ownership and engagement. I'm no longer a tourist, but an Atlantian. We hop on rickshaws and careen through Virgina knowing exactly where our free ride is taking us and where it's not. And where it's not taking me, I put in the energy to walk.
I'm taking a graduate course on feminist engagements with synthetic biology and bioethics. Every week we have a speaker, and this week, we welcomed Cara Page, an Atlanta community organizer and feminist-anti-racists-achiever healer. After class, we spoke with enthusiasm about my efforts to settle into this place and my eagerness to do so. At Emory, you get the theory; you get a kind of knowledge that's very useful for writing papers and talking to people and coming up with ideas. With Cara Page, you fuse that knowledge with the knowledge of real people by working with them and experiencing community. With Cara Page, you get a hug.
That's not unlike my work with a fabulous KSU student, Edric Figueroa. Edric found me in Piedmont Park and invited me to join the anti-war protest marching down the sidewalk. He said, "Hand these out!" and immediately I threw myself into the midst of asking strangers if they knew what the federal budget looked like. It's as if I'd forgotten how to interact with people. Do people in Atlanta act like people in Knoxville? To some degree, but the same thing could be said about me.
** BUY A FLAMING KATY AND NAME HER GWEN.
** SPEAK HONESTLY AND DEVELOP BLUE FLAMES.
** WRITE POEMS ON THE BACK OF QUIZZES.
** TOUCH PIECES OF LUNCH MEAT CAUGHT IN THE DRAIN.
** WALK ON WET HILLS.
** RIDE ON BUSES WITH DRUNK EMORY STUDENTS.