Birmingham, Alabama, the South. Should I stay? Should I go? Should I stay? Should I go? repeat
I have a family in Birmingham, a gorgeous boyfriend in Paris and a soul riding a rickshaw somewhere in India. Kolkata, we'll say. And a head that is in outer-space.
And while I am, perhaps, "too open-minded and international" for Birmingham (as a friend recently said), the one thing that is truly exciting to me currently is the idea of bettering this city and creating a place here. I go back and forth on this topic. The real fear isn't about not chasing a dream or not being original enough. It's about getting stuck...in places, habits, ways.
I've really never made living in NYC a goal, so why does it all of the sudden seem like my only option? I have friends that fell in love with D.C. at first sight. I didn't. So why is it high on my radar? I know people say "go where the jobs are," but the truly successful people I've met say "merge your ideals, passions and talent and create your own job." (It's true that I've never looked at a job description and said 'THAT'S ME!') One particularly successful businessman in Birmingham recently told me "...there is no recession. There is only a recession for people without talent and ideas." Easier said than done, I suppose. (But it helps that this particular person does a majority of his business overseas!)
The only place outside Birmingham (or Paris) where I've wanted to live is New Orleans. Or on a pecan plantation in Louisiana. Really, I just wanted to be a part of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. And that is a book of fiction. Although living in Nola's warehouse district is a close second to actually being Vivi Walker.
Maybe it's just where I'm looking, but the past two days have filled me with enthusiasm for my hometown. Maybe it's just a small minority of people who are interested in making the city- especially the city's core- a vibrant, walkable, international, exciting and economically powerful place. Maybe those developers, city-planners, restauranteurs and entrepreneurs investing their hopes and money in the city aren't enough to reach a tipping point among the larger community. Maybe their efforts aren't enough to truly re-invigorate (not just revitalize) Birmingham. It seems to me, though, that maybe they are. Read on and give me your opinions!
GOVERNOR RILEY TALKS TO SOUTHERN GOVERNORS' ASSOCIATION ABOUT TRADE WITH CHINA
TEACH FOR AMERICA EXPANDS TO ALABAMA. IT'S ABOUT TIME!
BIRMINGHAM NEWCOMER LAURA KATE WHITNEY'S ENTHUSIASTIC, INSPIRATIONAL AND ADVENTUROUS TAKE ON BHAM
And finally. Last night I had a wonderful Indian dinner with a group of Alabamians (some originally from Birmingham, some from smaller cities and some from India) who had all visited India and had a fascination with the country. We all agreed that there is no place more incredible, life-changing...or that takes weeks, months, years to understand. (And if you're honest with yourself, who really ever understands India?! As a wise old Indian man in Varanasi told me 'You come to India for one day, you know enough to write an article. You come to India for one month, you know enough to write a book. You come to India for one year, you know NOTHING!') How true.
And how cool that you can fill a large dining room table in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama with people ages 24-50...Caucasian, African-American and Indian...all with different interests, occupations and backgrounds. It's the kind of thing that gives me hope and a reason to be here.
(BTW, I don't think I'm too open-minded for Birmingham. It's all where you look.)