Maybe you’d consider this cheating, but I’m only just getting started so I can get a free pass. Ever since half my family moved down to Atlanta, it’s somewhere I’ve considered my second home for a long time. About 15 years to be exact. After a not so long work week I needed R&R time with the family and meeting my mother, step dad, and grandparents in the country side of Villa Rica was a great way to start.
The humidity as always was god awful. Red dirt, bugs the size of your big toe and more Waffle Houses than gas stations reminded me all too well what I adored so much about the south. Its authenticity really has a way to capture your heart and make you feel so at ease about the life around you. The people are always so friendly, the type of friendly that gives you hope that the world isn’t always such a bad place.
Within 2 hours I’m napping on the front porch of my grandma’s house after driving to the market to get a basket of peaches while half the family is grilling out back and making the most southern style meal you can imagine. Fried fish, grilled chicken, Mac and cheese, corn on the cob, and a gallon of my grandmas sweet tea that may quite possibly be the best beverage on earth. This is exactly what’s so easy about loving it here. Her house isn’t big but we managed to fit all 13 of us comfortably in the living room for the standard after dinner movie night joined with a box of Polaroid’s ranging from our great grandparents’ anniversary party to my 2nd grade school pictures. Not cute.
Monday night was just the beginning of an incredibly eventful couple days. The next day we went to an arcade bowling alley called Star and Strikes near my Aunt’s house in Roswell. The place was only ten dollars for all you can play bowling, or all you can play laser tag and did I mention the arcade came with both of those deals? Anyone’s inner child would nearly jump for joy at this (as we all did) and we quickly split up the 15 of us to buy each package with our group ranging from ages 11 to 43 and our grandparents who’s in their mid-60’s. Eventful is just one of many adjectives that can describe the careless fun we had as we took turns in the laser tag room while the other half bowled a seemingly competitive two lanes. We were stuffing our faces with pizza and bowling strikes on the breaks for nearly three hours while grandma and grandpa just stuck to bowling for obvious reasons. Luckily the place closed at 11p because if it were up to us we’d challenge each other to bowling and laser tag all night, despite the fact nearly all of us were adults.
My last day there we kept things pretty calm, and by calm I mean touring around the Coca Cola Museum downtown and walking over to a Jazz Music festival in the park. The Museum was phenomenal and incredibly updated, which included a movie roller coaster, all vintage memorabilia, and a room with 100’s of flavors of Coke all for free.
However, regardless of being free about 15 taste testers you never want another pop (yes, I said pop) again. Sugar in your teeth, children screaming everywhere. It was terrible. It was a relaxing Wednesday ending with picnic food and lawn chairs in the early evening with the family. I, of course, had to work the very next morning out of Chicago so my mom and I left the festival early only for me to change into my uniform in the parking garage and rush to the airport for the last direct flight out.
Lesson 3: when traveling in your uniform on a time crunch, despite how uncomfortable, opt to wear the pants. Rushing to put on tights in heat in a parking garage is not fun, flattering, or effective.
Our only sees each other once, maybe twice, a year since the family is split so when we get together we make sure every day counts. I only had a couple days off work and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it. This is only place #3 on the list of 50 and although it’ll be a struggle getting though the other 47, a few days with the family is always worth the time and travel.