Leaving Atlanta on Sunday afternoon was always the same. The cityscape fading into the haze and over the horizon. Ten lanes changing into eight, six, and finally four, as we chased the sun for awhile across the western sky. There is always something lonesome to me about leaving behind the life and excitement of the city.
We would stop before we got to the state line to fill up with gas, get a cold drink, and buy a lottery ticket. Back in the car, we'd talk about all the things we would do if we won, what we'd buy and the places we'd go. They were always different, but always the same.
Almost invariably, she would fall asleep. And I would listen to the 80's station out of Atlanta until the signal faded into unintelligible clutter. Sometimes I would be lost in thought and not even notice the static.
Birmingham always woke her. Turning her head to look out the window, realizing where we were, she would offer a soft smile. One of those lovers' smiles that says things words could never hope to express. I can still see her sleepy eyes if I close mine...
Today, Atlanta still has Six Flags and the Braves, and a beautiful cityscape. I don't think they have the 80's station anymore. Last time I was there, I couldn't find it. But you can still stop at some little store near the state line and get a lottery ticket. And think about the things you'd buy if you won.
Or maybe about the things you can't.
"Put her there in the front yard swing. Cotton dress, make it early spring. And for awhile she'll be mine again, if you can paint me a Birmingham..."