Forever I Love Atlanta

As I sit in a window seat, 30,000 feet in the air, I'm reflecting on the people I saw and the conversations I had during my visit to Atlanta this weekend-the city I called home just 3 short years ago.

The purpose of my trip was Georgia State University's graduation ceremony. A friend whom I helped study for and pass the entrance exam graduated with not one, but two degrees and made certain I was there for this huge moment.

While in Atlanta, I also reconnected with friends I hadn't seen in years and had great conversations, just like old times.

The first conversation I had was with someone I myself went to Georgia State with, who moved to L.A. for a bit and is now back in Atlanta. In this catching-up-conversation, we talked about being in very different places in our lives now than we were before. Making decisions that will impact our future while enriching our present.

We talked about how we used to be, how we used to think and how we've grown in a variety of ways over the years. We shared our dreams, plans and aspirations of grandeur while briefly expressing our concerns for friends that have some of those same plans but haven't quite figured out how to execute them; ultimately realizing though that everyone-even we, who took longer than is considered "traditional" to obtain college degrees-must move through life at their own pace. There was much more to say, but time did not allow for such. I look forward to finishing, or rather-continuing-this conversation of life beyond complacency and dreams realized.

The second (and fourth) conversations I had were with the graduate. Possibly the most brief of the weekend, but just as important nonetheless. We spoke of remaining focused and inspired despite obstacles, distractions and stresses along the way. I was thanked for getting the graduate to this point-graduation-and I reminded the graduate that while I'm thrilled to have been able to be a part of this accomplishment, their determination to succeed is what truly got them here. That emotional maturity to complete the curriculum necessary to graduate from a University-especially one as challenging as Georgia State-is something to be extremely proud of because it comes from within.

My third conversation was all about dreams. Dreams that are within reach but not yet realized, and the bullshit that is the low period that comes with going after them. The frustration, the feeling of defeat and the mental maintenance needed to keep moving forward towards a goal that seems, at times, to be fading away-fleeting even. We revisited my lowest moments-moments this person was there for during and after-and how things may have taken time, but they worked themselves out.

Hope seemed to return during this conversation. A reminder that we can't gauge success based on our age, progress takes time and we can never compare our chapter 3 to someone else's chapter 9.

My fifth conversation happened over one of my favorite Atlanta past-times: brunch. As we drank champagne and ate way too much, we covered everything from work to dating to traveling to podcasts. I was reminded of the nightmare dating in Atlanta can be, but also of the things that I love about the city. We chatted about working hard and leaving a mark, even if that means working harder than those around us-although it's stressful at times, and the strength it takes to maintain being ourselves despite being-at times- extremely different than those around us.

It was during this talk that I identified something of an ally in someone I've only known for around a year, and I'm glad I did.

The sixth and final conversation happened over coconut and soy lattes with someone I haven't seen in at least 6 months. The last time we spoke-via text-i was informed of their desire to move out of Atlanta and on to another city where they feel they'd be happy and successful.

During this last free hour in Atlanta, I got a follow-up to that plan. It's in motion and looks like it will truly happen. I realized then that the one friend I'm typically most concerned for, has changed  and grown up a bit. New York, which was the desired location to move for years, has been re-categorized as a place to love and cherish-and visit. Living with 6 other people just to live in New York is no longer desirable; and at 30, you should be reducing your number of roommates, not increasing them. What's important now is being comfortable and happy.

I couldn't help but feel a pang of pride in hearing this realization. The time for change arrived for this person, and they're taking advantage of it-intelligently. That's the true sign of being an adult.

While none of the people here have been named, I'm sure they'll recognize their cameos in this series of conversations.

A message to those individuals:

It was so good seeing you and sharing moments, hours or a day with you. I've missed you all and being able to catch up over the weekend has meant the world to me. I'll talk to you soon and hope to see you again in the near future!

Until next time, ATLiens and everyone else reading this,

Peace, love and connection to all.