Cool serendipities in Atlanta

3/18/22

Apologies for my infrequent posts in the past few days, and in the coming week. My second Warmshowers host here in Atlanta does not have WiFi in his apartment, and I’m about to go “off grid” for a few days with a friend in Charlotte, NC, starting tomorrow. But in this moment, I’m here in a coffee shop in Inman Park, Atlanta (during a break in the epic thunderstorms of the day!) so I want to share my time here from yesterday, when the sun shone and most things went right.

I first headed out on foot, in the late morning, to a drugstore to buy a new reline kit for my denture. I’ve found that in general, travel has gone pretty smoothly with my dental situation. But for the past few weeks, my existing reline was getting more and more ill-fitting, so I thought I’d take care of it here in Atlanta. Sadly, my first two attempts (which take me more than an hour each, despite the apparent ease shown in that video) did not go well. I was getting discouraged, and eating was becoming difficult and painful. So, I made it my mission to get another kit yesterday. Unfortunately, my initial foray took me farther on foot than I had anticipated, and the several drugstores I visited did not have the kits in stock. I did eventually find one, late in the afternoon, and successfully put it to use last night, so all is well with my dentition for the time being.

But along the way to that first drugstore, I passed some cool buildings, including a bar called “Church” with a large mural of Stacey Abrams on it, as well as the name of Raphael Warnock. Those two names seemed like legends to me after the last election; I had contributed to their respective campaigns at the time, but had momentarily forgotten that they were based in Atlanta. (I was especially surprised when, about an hour later, I walked past the actual church where Rev. Warnock is the minister! See photo.)

That Church bar was only about a block past the famous, Black-owned vegan burger restaurant Slutty Vegan. I had initially planned to visit there, but sadly my teeth were not in good shape for biting into a burger, so I met a friend for a smoothie later instead. But this local vegan burger chain is legendary, with lines snaking around the block late at night.

On my way back from the drugstore, I passed a small group of men who were part of the Baha’i Faith Center of Atlanta. They were hosting a charity event in which they were distributing clothing and shoes to homeless people in the neighborhood. Not realizing I was a visitor, they encouraged me to come back and volunteer at a future event. When I said I was only in town for a few days, they invited me to see the inside of their next-door shop, Created Noble (not open at the time—they unlocked it to let me in) where they sell clothing and art to support civil rights causes and mostly Black artists in the area. The proprietor told me that the shop had come together organically: during the time of the George Floyd demonstrations and activism, he and some friends found themselves holding protest signs, sometimes even one in each hand. Then he realized he could be using his clothing to make such statements, so he began printing T-shirts. Then he started selling them to family and friends, and they were popular enough that he decided to open a shop for them. Meanwhile, his mother is a Spanish teacher at a nearby high school, and she had recently led a fundraising effort with the students in the school, selling ice cream from a Latino-owned ice cream shop in south Atlanta, so that low-income students in her class could afford to attend their class field trip to Costa Rica.

Now the shop sells those ice creams as well (including some vegan options—I sampled the chocolate) to support community efforts.

I was inspired by the story of a successful local business, founded on a mission of service to the local community, which came together almost magically, fueled by genuine passion and, as the proprietor described it me, “many serendipities.”

After this serendipitous tour, I continued on my way, now meeting up with my friend Brett at a locally owned smoothie shop. I first met Brett in Melbourne, Australia, when I visited there in December of 2013. Since then, he has moved to Los Angeles, and then relocated to Atlanta, to work in the film industry. (He is a professional stunt man!) I was lucky to catch him in town, because he is heading back overseas for a month in just a few days.

We had a great conversation, catching up on several years’ worth of our lives since we last shared a meal in LA, while we walked through a local park. Part of the park included the Jimmy Carter presidential library. We didn’t go inside, but the grounds looked cool.

After Brett and I said goodbye, I continued to explore the Little Five Points commercial district, where I visited a natural foods co-op which has been operating since 1974. I got some tasty eats for future meals.

Now, today, has been mostly stormy, so I’ve mostly stayed inside. I did just learn that my vegan friend from Portland, Stephanie—with whom I met up just outside of Phoenix a couple months ago, and she gave me a ride to Tucson—just landed in Atlanta last night! The small world continues. We are going to see if she and her friend might be able to meet me for dinner in a few hours at Envegan, near the train station. My train is scheduled to depart at 11:29 pm, and arrive in Charlotte at 5:06 am: oof! At least I could use my Amtrak points to book a sleeper car.

So, you may not hear from me for a few days, but when you do, I’ll tell you about Charlotte, and also about my new plan for April, including a geographic detour I hadn’t initially envisioned.

I hope you’re all doing well!

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