Peace Up, A-Town Down
Stay in between the lines.
Stay in between the lines.
I’m in a trance as I make the second stretch of my 11 hour trip to Atlanta. I begin to recount all the advice ever given to me about driving.
When you’re on the road, as slow as you drive, stay in the right lane.
If you see a car moving up fast behind you, move out of their way and let them pass.
If you’re going too fast through an intersection and the light turns red, don’t stop- keep riding cuz you can’t back up.
When you see a car brake in front of you, you don’t have to press your brakes. Just ease your foot off of the accelerator, your car will slow down automatically.
If your car is ever hydroplaning, don’t press the brakes, it will only make things worse.
When you are driving next to one of those big trucks, focus your eyes on the front of your car. If you even glance at the truck as you pass it, it will feel like it’s sucking you in.
If you see a police car and you know you’re speeding, don’t hit your brakes. It will seem like you’re guilty. Just ease your foot off of the accelerator, your car will slow down by itself.
If a police officer gives you the flashing lights and you’re in a secluded area, put on your hazard lights and drive to a populated place. If he asks why you didn’t stop, tell him you are concerned for your safety.
I see a sign that says Atlanta bypass and I follow the curve to the left.
I look down at my directions.
I’m on I75 North. I’m supposed to exit when I see a sign that says 285 West. Ok.
I do a double take when I glance at the other side of the divide. Damn! I MUST be near Atlanta because I have NEVER seen a traffic jam like that! It was literally a jillion cars all crammed up on one interstate. Damnnnnnn….
What if someone in that crowd has to pee? What if someone has an asthma attack? You will NEVER get me to drive in that craziness. I would go insane.
I see the sign that says 285 West. I’m supposed to exit on the 2nd sign that says 285 West.
Where is the 2nd exit?
Oh no. I think I missed the circle turn she told me to take.
I’ll pull over. I take the next exit and turn right. I’m at a gas station and all these Georgia people are there. I feel like an alien. Since my phone is a Metro PCS I don’t expect it to work up here but when I take it out to find Yolanda’s number and call her from a pay phone to tell her I’m lost, I see that I have reception.
I call Tamara and relay the news.
“I think I missed the exit.”
“That’s okay, just go the opposite way, back on I75South and get off on 285 West.”
“I don’t want to, I’m scared.”
“Tee. Get back on the Interstate.”
“Ok,” I mumble weakly and climb back into my car. “Don’t hang up.”
I ride a little more and find the 285 West exit.
“What do I do now?”
“Ok, look for 85 South, then get off at the Fairburn exit. That’s you.”
So we’re talking and talking and I’m telling her about my trip. My line beeps and I answer it, it’s my cousin. I talk to her for a second and when I look up, I’m passing by the Fairburn exit.
“Girl, I gotta go. I’m lost.”
I click back over. “Prince. I missed the exit.”
“That’s okay,” she says calmly. “Get off at the next exit and turn around. Get back on 285 and find 85 South, then look for Fairburn.”
“Ok,” I mumble, feeling foolish.
When I turn into her subdivision I am amazed. These houses are huge and all brand new. Does my girl live here for real?
“Keep riding the road and I’ll be on the porch,” she tells me.
When I see her I smile. She never changes. She looks great.
I jump out of my car and we hug.
“We’re wearing the same green shirt,” she says.
“Gay!” I say and we both laugh.
“Come on,” I say and throw both arms in the air in anticipation of a cart wheel. Since we were in highschool, we had this tradition. Whenever we traveled anywhere new and we were together, we’d both do cartwheels in the street to remember the moment.
She looks at me and laughs. “Girl, I can’t do a cartwheel,” she says.
“Why not?” I ask confused.
“I’ll tell you in a minute,” she says and walks into her house. “But first you have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone. You will keep what I’m about to show you a secret. Promise?”
“Dang! yeah. Geez!” I say as she walks into a room and returns with a piece of paper. Looks like photographs in black and white. What the heck is that? It reminds me of the time when… Wait. Are those sonogram photos? Is that a… baby in those pictures?
“Prince!” I screech and my eyes fill with tears.
“Yep,” she confirms my suspicions. “I found out today.”
The wall catches me as my body goes weak and I slide down onto the wood floors.
“Tee, you okay?”
“Please…just give me a minute. I need a minute,” I say and close my eyes.
“Yep, remember I told you I wasn’t feeling well and yesterday I went to the doctor. Today she called me back and told me she had something to discuss with me but I had to come back in. When I went back in, she asked if she could do a sonogram and I told her sure. As soon as she looked at the screen she said, ‘I was right. Congralulations, you’re pregnant.'”
I’m still sitting there numb.
This is all too much. This is all too much. She just got engaged a few weeks ago. She just moved into this big beautiful house with him. I just got here. Everything is changing too fast. My chest starts to heave. I fish my inhaler out of my pocket and take a puff.
“I’m okay, it’s just…” I begin to cry. “I’m so happy for you. Everything is falling into place. You are so blessed. You are so blessed. We’re growing up dawg. I mean…we’re all grown up and stuff making grown up moves. I still feel like we’re teenagers. But we’re not. You’re having another baby. You’re getting married. Ooh! Let me see the ring.”
She smiles and showcases the ring for me. It’s dainty for her dainty little fingers. It’s the 2 karat diamond engagement ring from the Tiffany legacy series in a platinum setting with graduated sidestones.
“Tee, are you ready to see the rest of the house?” she asks.
“Ok,” I say and finally get up from the floor.
Tamara’s house is beautiful. From her master bedroom, to her beautifully decorated living room. Her kitchen has an island in it like the kitchens in all those sitcoms.
Her daughter’s room is beautifully decorated and she shows me the guest bedroom upstairs.
We walk out back onto the patio area. There’s a cozy deck with a nice grill set up. “This is where we barbecue or just sit outside and have drinks.”
She leads me into a small hallway past the most attractive set of washer and dryers that I have ever seen. We go down a staircase into what I presume is the basement and my mouth drops open as I enter the entertainment room.
I feel like I’m on CRIBS.
There’s a pool table ofcourse, with stylish pool balls and there’s a wet bar with two slushee machines filled with alcohol. Around the corner I see a leather couch set and plasma TV set up like a living area. The entire room is decorated in purple and gold as a tribute to her fiance’s fraternity.
Next to the pool table is another leather couch set and a hug plasma TV. There are 3 more TV’s on the walls and a stylish table with stools all around it in pruple and gold. This feels like a sports bar.
“Let me show you outside,” she says and opens the back door.
Ahhh! A jacuzzi!
“It seats 7 people and warms up to the exact degree you want it,” she tells me.
“Wow girl, you are off the chain.”
“I’m not done,” she says and we walk back inside.
We open a door.
“This is a storage area. There’s nothing in it but I’m sure we’ll find something to put in it,” she laughs.
She opens another door. “This is the excercise room, but we don’t have equipment yet.”
“Prince this looks like the dance studio on Making the Band,” I say and go into my old dance routine from college.
Kick, step, step.
Kick, step, step.
I admire my moves in the wall to wall mirrors and look a little closer. Ugh…I really need to shave or pluck these hairs out of my chin. I look like an ugly chubby boy. Damn estrogen!
We move from the dance room and open another door. “This is what we like to call the Control Room,” she says and flips the light on. It looks like an electronic nightmare. “Everything is wired to this room.”
We walk out and she opens another door. I walk in. WOW! Am I on TV or something? It’s the same set-up the celebrities have. You know, those private movie rooms with the wall to wall screen and the projector and the huge reclining leather chairs. She has one in her house!
“Wow! It’s your own movie theatre dawg!”
She laughs, “You are so stupid.”
“Girl,” I say as I sink into the soft leather, “If you put the internet on this screen, I would go crazy!”
“You and your internet?” she laughs. “Girl, you are too much!”
Come on, just one more room.
We walk into the next door. It’s another guest bedroom that is almost as big as my living room back home. Ofcourse the bedroom has a private bath off the side.
I’m exhausted by this time.
We go back upstairs and relax on the leather sofa.
“You hungry?” she asks me. “Let’s go get something to eat.”
“Girl, I’m not making my Atlanta debut looking like a monster,”I tell her, guesturing toward my attire: green top, hospital scrubs and flip flops.
“Girl, ain’t nobody looking at you. We just going into pick something up. You like soul food don’t you? I’m taking you to Ann Laura’s.”
“Whatever. Let’s go.”
We hop into her truck and ride down the street.
Hmmm…. This looks so…country. Small townish. Where are the people?
When we arrive at the restaurant Tamara explains that the people here are the exact opposite of the people in Miami. “Everyone here is actually nice. I couldn’t believe it when I went to the store and people actually smiled at me and asked how I was doing.”
“They what?” I ask her as we walk into the restaurant.
“I’m not lieing. They smile and speak as if they care about you.”
“Girl, the people who work at places like restaurants or even the grocery stores, they act like they actually LIKE their jobs. They are always pleasant.”
“I’m not lieing.”
We approach the buffet line and my mouth salivates at the sight of mashed potatoes, smothered pork chops, fried fish, turkey wings, collard greens, corn bread, peach cobbler and sweet potatoes.
“You can have anything you want,” Tamara tells me.
I choose my dishes and sides and dessert along with a sweet tea. The woman serving the food sees my amazed face.
“She’s new to Atlanta,” Tamara explains to her. “Her first time here.”
“Well,” she says in a slow, southern drawl. “You’ll definately be back.”
Before we leave I see a newspaper stand with a free magazine and I grab one to see what kind of publications are here so that I can start contacting them for freelance work.
When we reach home, my other good friend Kim calls my phone and tells me she is on her way to Tamara’s house to see me.
We all stand around inhaling the delicious food and talking about how great life is. Kim thumbs through the magazine I picked up at the restaurant. “This is a good magazine, dawg. I enjoyed it.”
Hmmm. I’ll contact them on Monday to see if they need a good writer.
The door opens and in walks a young tenderoni. It’s Byron, Tamara’s fiance’s cousin. He lives with them. “Hello,” I say and it reminds me to make a pact with Tamara.
“Tamara,” I need your help. “Promise me that no matter what I say, you will NOT allow me to talk to any of these guys up here. I have to focus on my career and becoming stable for my sons.”
She stands up and walks away laughing. “That’s on you Tee. I have nothing to do with that.”
“Promise me!” I plead. “I can’t be distracted like I was in Miami and I never want to go through what I went through with Dude.” My heart aches just thinking about it. I’m so glad that’s over.
“Dawg, that’s on you.” she says and laughs.
“You suck, chick,” I tell her.
We all sit down on the sofas with our full bellies and Tamara says, “Hey, lemme take a quick nap and we can go out later, just to ride out so you can see the actual city.”
“Ok,” I tell her and look over at Kim who is also half asleep.
“Wake me up in an hour,” Tamara says and goes into her room.
“Me too dawg,” Kim whispers and heads for the upstairs guest room.
They make me sick. I’m not the least bit sleepy and I’ve been driving all day.
At 12:15 I walk into Tamara’s room and nudge her. “Prince, it’s time to get up.”
“No Tee. I can’t. I promise we’ll go out another time. I’m too sleepy.”
I go up to Kim’s room. She’s snoring.
I hate these chicks.
I take out my VIBE magazine with Keysha Cole on the cover and put on my glasses. I sit down in the living room to read. Tamara’s little cousin in law Byron walks into the kitchen and starts to fry some chicken. He looks to be around 22 or 23.
“You can’t sleep?” he asks me.
“No. So I guess I’ll read a little bit.”
When his chicken is done he offers me a few pieces and I’m not really in the mood but I don’t want to be rude so I take two chicken wings. Mmmm…Im glad I did. His Mama must have gave him a lesson or two.
“Let’s go downstairs and watch Making The Band on TIVO,” he suggests.
“Sure,” I say and grab my blanket.
We head down to the basement and get comfy on the soft leather. He finds the program on TIVO and I look at him in amazement as he laughs at Andrea when her boyfriend breaks up with her.
He sees my perplexed expression. “Look,” he says in the most thick country accent I have ever heard. “I tell ya whut. No need to analyze why he’s doing what he did. There are only 3 reasons why he would break up with this guhl on TV. 1) He’s f**ing someone else. 2) He’s f**ing someone esle. 3) He’s f***ing someone else and he still wants to keep her on the side.
I laugh. The male mentality.
“Come on let’s go out,” he says.
“This spot called The Ritz. We can lean wit’ it rock wit’ it.”
“Lean wit’ it, rock wit’ it? Sorry, I don’t know how to do that.”
“Whut?” he asks me. “Do you at least like T.I.?”
I frown. “No, he has a bird chest.”
He stares at me with a blank expression. “If you don’t like T.I. you can’t live here. He’s the biggest rapper out right now.”
“For real? I thought that was Lil Wayne.”
He looks at me as if to say, ‘You’re killin me Smalls’.
“Is T.I. from here?” I ask innocently.
Another blank look.
“What? I thought he was from Houston or something.”
If looks could kill….
“Come on, let’s go in the dance room and I’ll show you how to do the snap dance,” he offers.
“Yay!” I squeal.
We walk into the dance room and position ourselves side by side on the wood floors in front of the mirror. The Lean Wit’ It Rock Wit’ It song blares from the system as he demonstrates the dance. I try to follow his movements but I can’t get the mechanics right.
“You’re thinking too hard,” he tells me.
No, I’m not. It’s a hip shift with a shoulder swirl and back again with a hand snap and a simultaneous head pop. I can do this.
We practice a little more until the song changes. I just can’t get the fluid motion that he has but I can tell that dance must look so cool when a club full of people are doing it.
“Look at this,” he says doing some sort of hand sign that looks like a bird.
I smile. “3-0-5! Take it to the house!” I sing.
“No,” he interrupts me. “No more 3-0-5,” he tells me.
No more 3-0-5?
“Now it’s, Peace up, A-Town down.” He raises his hand in a V for the peace sign, then reverses it downward like an A. “Do it.”
Peace up. A-Town down?
I copy his hand motions.
“ATL Shawty!” he repeats, a few times while folding his arms across his chest and popping his head like a gangsta.
“ATL Shawty!” I mimic him. “Peace up. A-Town down!”
“That’s right!” he says and we continue to dance.
We both jump when we hear laughter just outside the room. We turn around. It’s Tamara with her camera phone filming us. “Ya’ll are sooo stooopid!” she says and falls out laughing.
“Shut up Prince.”
Shortly after she leaves with her video we both go to bed.
My first day in the A.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings.