Moving from Atlanta to Memphis: Learning through Transition

It’s been a long time since I’ve moved to a new city and I forgot how difficult it can be to figure your way around. When I moved to Atlanta in 1999, I was young and unconcerned about what was going on around me. I simply grew up. I unknowingly learned a lot about myself, my love for design and my love for the city. This all merged into a harmonious love affair between urbanization + design / art + Atlanta. By the end of a decade… and incidentally my 20’s, I finally had a good sense of who I was and what I was doing on this earth.

Atlanta and I were best buds. We were inseparable. We were in love.

But the time came when I had to leave Atlanta for another city. It was hard.

Things were different in Memphis. “So far so good,” I would tell folks from home. Moving to a new city is like the starting a relationship. Everything is new and exciting, nothing is familiar, and everything you do, hear, and touch has its own new uniqueness. It’s charming and fresh.

“So far so good,” I’d say.

I think that I’d say that because to be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about Memphis. It’s just like when you start dating someone new. You think, he’s pretty cool. I’ll see him again. But truthfully, you don’t have the faintest idea about whether he likes sushi or what his favorite color is… never mind the really deep stuff like what are his goals in life.

So that is where I am in my new relationship with Memphis. The tricky thing is, I’ve been trying to jump into the married life with Memphis before working through the honeymoon phase.

What I forgot to think about regarding my new move to Memphis vs. my first big move to Atlanta was how challenging it can be to move to a new city as an older adult with a more defined identity. No longer did I feel that I could take years and years to grow with a city and learn its identity. Immediately, I felt like I had to know everything about Memphis, just like I had with Atlanta. I so desperately wanted to fill that void.

After I settled into my new job, after about three weeks of living here, I started researching everything and anything about Memphis + design. As you might have suspected, this is not the most narrowed down search and so you can imagine the amount of information that was coming up. The list of events, places and organizations was endless. It was and still is a bit over-whelming.

Sears Building 1927

So, Why am I telling you all this? To finally get to the point of this story… I had a nice breakthrough last night. I accepted an invitation to a great event hosted by Crosstown Arts and Design Alliance called Pecha Kucha. I’m still not sure how to pronounce it… anyways, the event took place in a beautiful empty building called Sears Crosstown Building. It is located in the midtown area of Memphis.

I already knew I was going to like whatever was going on here. If someone planned to throw an event in a beautiful, forgotten building in an urban environment, it was an event I wanted to be at.

Pecha Kucha was composed of 8 presentations. Some talked about large projects going on in Memphis while some talked about individual’s work. I learned about an organization called Tactical Urbanism, which FYI, is like exactly what I was doing in Atlanta before I moved away. Holy awesomeness! I learned about the Urban Art Commission and some of things they were hoping to contribute to Memphis. I mostly just met a bunch of people who are totally into similar things that I am. Not bad for a Thursday night.

Who knows what the future holds for Memphis and I… but, at least for now, I think I’d like to see him again.

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One response

  1. Tara

    It is so good to read about how you are doing and even better to learn that you are finding ways to connect with your new city. I envy you but at the same time I know it takes a lot of strength and boldness to go somewhere new.

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