I may have only lived in Chattanooga for two years, but they were a significant two years in my life. I moved to Chatt in the fall of 1998 as a shy, naive 15-year-old, and I left in the spring of 2000 a little older, a little wiser, and a little more confident of my place in the world.
I learned a lot during my Baylor days: I learned how to live with girls [I grew up with brothers]. I learned how to determine when showers were absolutely necessary [note: not before 8am classes in the basement of my dorm]. I [kind of] learned some study skills that came in handy when I went on to undergrad. I learned about high school rivalries and dorm pride. I learned the joy of daily service as well as the absolute humility of international service. I learned to get along with people from all backgrounds and countries and cultures. And I learned how to stand up for myself, how to articulate my arguments, and how my voice can have a positive impact.
My family and I have long said that attending Baylor is the best academic decision I've ever made [thank you, Brother Bear], but it was so much more than academics. Not only did Baylor help me grow as a person, but Chattanooga did as well. I got to experience the joy of outdoor activities, participating in weekend rafting and trekking and camping trips. I was around during the final renaissance of Roosevelt and Coolidge Parks and spent countless weekends wandering the parks and the pedestrian bridge and the shops [mostly just Clumpie's]. It's a fantastic city for people of all ages, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have gotten to live in that environment.
I have been back to Chattanooga many times since I graduated in June 2000, but most of my visits have been for only one or two nights. Because of that, I always return to Baylor's campus to say hi to some of my old teachers, and I always hit up Typhoon for a meal, but it's been a long time since I got to play tourist. The city has changed so much even in the last 5 years, and I had not gotten to walk around and discover all the changes.
When I was planning my NC-VA excursion for the summer, I knew I had to fit Chatt in there somewhere. Yes, it was slightly out of the way for the things I would be doing, but at the same time, I was desperate to get back. My last visit was in October 2010 for my 10-year-reunion, and I knew I wanted a few more days to be able to properly enjoy the city.
Luckily for me, Ken and Ellen [Steph's parents] generously opened their home to me and told me I was welcome anytime. When I broached the possibility of staying with them for 4 nights, they didn't blink an eye, and when I showed up on their doorstep last Friday afternoon, Ellen had bananas and chocolate milk waiting for me. It was awesome.
Really, all of Chattanooga was awesome. I got to catch up with a few old classmates. I visited Rock City and the Incline Railway [and have my Ruby Falls ticket for the next time I get back to town]. I toured the Aquarium and walked the pedestrian bridge. I walked my old stomping grounds and even got to see my old AP English teacher. I returned to favourite restaurants and even got to try a few new ones. I tried out the bike share program as well as the free electric shuttle that runs downtown [two thumbs up for both]. I had a fabulous dinner with Joli and Yogi, two of my absolute favourite people. And mostly I just wandered around, marveling at all the great changes that have taken place in my favourite city.
Chattanooga will always feel like home to me, especially when I'm in the States, and it is certainly on the shortlist for cities I'd love to live and work in again soon. It's such a beautiful, welcoming, wonderful city, and I cannot wait to be back again.
other highlights included: exploring Richmond; Rhodes Reunion in the RVA; visiting the Byrd Theatre; lots of museums; and pretty much everything in Chattanooga.
Those roots may have only had two years to plant themselves, but they planted themselves deep.
|[view from ken and ellen's back deck]|
|[chattanooga at night. from the walnut st pedestrian bridge]|
|[i live in memphis and will lives in nashville, so it only makes sense that we should meet up in chattanooga. right?]|
|[grocery store tacos from carniceria loa #7. because obviously #7 is the best one]|
|[swing-a-long bridge at rock city!]|
|[heading up lookout mountain on the incline railway. super cool and pretty intimidating]|
|[looking out over my favourite city from point park]|
|[sunset down on the river]|
|[good old trustee hall. it'll always be home to me]|
|[tennessee river as seen from the library patio]|
|[great way to get around downtown and the southside]|
|[another stroll on the pedestrian bridge, this time during the daylight hours]|
|[with joli and yogi. so great to see them]|
|[farewell lunch at typhoon. yep, that white sauce can still clean the pennies]|
|[beautiful amtrak station in richmond]|
|[strolling through part of the vcu campus]|
|[random murals near carytown]|
|[maisy and harper, future rhodents]|
|[rhodes college reunion. love these lynx cats]|
|[just hanging out with my buddy edgar. we go way back]|
|[$2 movie in a restored theatre!]|
|[agecroft hall, an old lancashire home that was stripped down, transported to richmond, and reconstructed. very cool]|
|[maymont, another beautiful southern home]|
|[maymont gardens. so lovely]|
|[waterfall at maymont. yes, these people had their own waterfall on their property. i can't make these things up]|
|[beautiful belle isle. i had a blast climbing over the rocks]|
|[the lee bridge from belle isle]|