As I step off the train and onto the platform, I am surrounded by people. I meld into the flood of faces and feet as the wave of motion picks up. I hear several students speaking French and I note three veiled women conversing in a beautiful tongue, as colorful in sound as the garbs of their saris. As I mind a dirty sleeping man, I reach for a few dollars to give. Above the stench of urine and rain I can smell a small bakery opening its windows and doors. I search the fresh market and find two green apples for a mere handful of change–it’s the mart owner’s son’s birthday and I see a sign with a card autographed by the local regulars and smile. I thank him.
As I make my way across the street I appreciate the architectural diversity of old vs. new in the heavy marble buildings contrasted with the glassy sky scrapers. Taking a crunch out of one apple, I quickly cross diagonally to the park and observe the community: old, young, loud music, mid- and quarter-life crises, backpacks, suits, hobo packs, a side walk preacher, bikes, an empty police station, mopeheads, a saxophone playing jazz, fast cars, and a “keep of the grass” sign.
What place is this? Am I stepping off the subway in New York? the tube in London? the Metro in Paris?
No. I’m in my favorite little non-european European town: 5 points Atlanta.
I take Marta to work some days. I absolutely adore the eclectic mix of people and restaraunts in this area. So much is happening. I wonder–how did I not uncover this gem before?–as I pass a man preaching to a crowd about a march on Washington, a mother consoling her child, a life-size chess match, two men waiting side by side who would never stand beside each other again.
This is Atlanta–with all its guts and all its glory.
And 5 points at the heart of downtown is my favorite place to be.