Atlanta in April – and it feels like summer already!
We had two friends to see and three days to do it in. Officially Mark had never been in Georgia before – connecting through the airport doesn’t count – so we figured it was worth three days. And indeed it was even though one of our friends ultimately was sidelined with back trouble so we couldn’t see him (getting old sucks). The three days with our friend Susan Shaer, though, was fantastic.
We were close friends with Susan back in Massachusetts, but not long after we left to start our world adventure she sold her house in Arlington to buy smaller places in Denver and Atlanta where her daughters, and perhaps more importantly her grand-children, live. And after these exciting years we had a lot of catching up to do.
Lunches, dinners, drinks – we did it all. Susan is a fascinating woman who had an impressive career working in politics and non-profits. She ultimately survived two unfortunate marriages and these days is thriving on her own spending winters in Atlanta near one daughter and summers in Denver near the other.
Lots to catch up on. But even with all that time with Susan we had a lot of time on our own to explore at least pieces of Atlanta. First, the mistake. Mark spends a lot of time researching where we should stay and based on that research chose a nice Starwood property in the Buckhead neighborhood. A place you’re supposed to be able to walk around and all that. Hah! You can walk as long as you like walking along broad, busy, noisy thoroughfares. And everything that you want to see is miles away. I actually did a bunch of those five- and six-mile walks to get to various places and back … and ended up paying the price when I got a really nasty blister on the last day. Word to the wise: stay in Midtown, not Buckhead!!
Now, what was there to see in Atlanta? Besides some really good restaurants, we enjoyed the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, and the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
The King Center was good, and we were there just days before the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination. I always cry when I see a tape of that last speech in Memphis the night before he was killed. You know the one:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live – a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
You worry that fifty years later in a land where white nationalists are equated with people protesting racism, the promised land maybe ain’t what was promised.
And then we went to the Carter Library. In some ways for me that was even a bigger deal. That was the first presidency that I experienced as an adult, and of course the great Walter Mondale played a big role in it.There were two exhibits in particular that I found striking. One was a 10-minute video of a “day in the life” of the president, showing the many meetings, discussions, memos, and calls Carter dealt with on just one ordinary day; truly an impressive array of issues to deal with. The other was a detailed review of the Camp David accords, 13 days of intense meetings with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin that were deep, deep in the details of that historic conflict but that led to the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt that has held to this day.
What was so striking in particular about these exhibits was the juxtaposition of Carter – trained as a nuclear physicist – handling these difficult issues in extraordinary detail and sensitivity, compared to the current piece of shit in the White House. Utterly inconceivable that Trump would ever have intelligent discussions about the minutiae of transportation policy and energy policy and education policy, or could break away from Fox News to spend 13 days hashing out a successful peace treaty in the Middle East. I always thought Jimmy Carter was a good man, but I also recognize that he had distinct shortcomings as a president. Compared the current incumbent, though, he was a giant.
Enough ranting about politics; I usually prefer to save that for pre-dinner drinks with Mark.
Atlanta, though, was good. We have quickly leapt from winter in Duluth through spring in early summer here, where the daytime temperature on Easter Sunday was in the low 80s. From here it’s east to Savannah and then south into Florida. Lots of driving but it’s been a great way to visit with old friends.