Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why I love Macon

I can spot a true Maconite a mile away. I can usually tell if that person ever moved away and came back, versus the die-hards who never left. I can tell if you went to public school or private school, and after a few minutes of conversation, I can usually tell what side of town you are from.

I always said there were two different breeds in Macon - The Arts crowd and the Non-Arts crowd. Honestly, there is nothing else in between. It's always been that way.

When I lived in Birmingham, I often would listen to people bash their hometown. Usually, when you live in a major metro, majority of the people are from "somewhere else." Most were from tiny little towns in faraway places. Places you would typically never hear of. When I mentioned that I was from Georgia, often time people would say to me, "Oh, Birmingham must be so different from Atlanta." I would smile and reply, "Why yes, I am sure it is." Then I would wink and say I am from Macon, Georgia. Honestly, most of the people had never heard of Macon. The first question they would then ask was,

 "How many people live there?"
 I would reply and then they would follow up with, "I bet it was so boring there."

I would suddenly sit up a little straighter, and give that "southern smirk," you know the one, a sort of "I'm about to school you - but I want to mind my manners" look. I would then go on to talk about the arts in Macon. That's the first thing I would go into. Next, I would talk about the architecture. Finally I would describe the Cherry Blossoms in spring. People would just look at me skeptically, however, whenever I got the chance, I would bring them home with me and give them a little twirl about town.

Now that I am back, and I have accepted the fact that I am not moving to NYC or LA anytime in the near future, I am trying to embrace the city I fled. I am looking at the houses in a different way, embracing the quirky "haughtiness" of our residents (something that comes from an extreme pride in our city,) as well as filling up my calendar quite quickly with events. Talk about jumping right back into that old "arts" life - once I committed to making it "home" again, everything just took off.

But that's Macon. We act as if we are the most cosmopolitan city in Georgia, yet we are disguised as a quaint antebellum town. I can spend my Saturday morning visiting a Civil War re-enactment and my evening at the symphony. I could attend a cocktail party on Friday night and find myself at a jazz brunch on Sunday afternoon. I could hike the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds one afternoon, and go water skiing on Lake Tobo the next. Want something bigger? Atlanta is less than 2 hours away. Need the ocean? About 2 1/2 hours away. Want the mountains? Same thing. Macon, honestly, is a good place to call home.

The inspiration behind this post today comes from visiting the site I Love Macon. Sure, it's a little public relations campaign to get people to travel here, but honestly, I see it as something bigger. I see it as a way to remind me why I am choosing to stay here, for now. As I was reading the "pledge" comments readers were leaving, it sort of made me sit up a little straighter, get that sense of pride I sort of smirked at upon my return.

At the end of the day - No, we do not have the sky scrapers. But any given afternoon in downtown Macon, you will find tons of people walking the streets, just like any bigger city. If I want live music, my goodness - this is what we call 'the song and soul of the south.' If I want to see fine art, we are surrounded by amazing museums and galleries. Live theater? Always a show going on. Just enough to keep me interested, yet not so much to overwhelm or break the bank.

I am trying to keep my mind and my eyes open. I am trying to embrace the art, history and culture of the city. I want to be a good ambassador for those of you reading this blog. So many of you travel, and soooo many of you stop by each week. Have you EVER considered putting Macon on your to-do list? I bet you haven't. There are beautiful B&Bs, comfortable hotels, and great dining. There is enough to keep you busy for a weekend, at least. Plus, we are so close to all of those places you might be interested in seeing (Savannah, The Golden Isles, the mountains, Atlanta.) If you are interested, check out the Macon Bibb-County CVB website.

I actually do love my city. We sort of have that love/hate relationship. I think she is beautiful and has a lot to offer, but as with all over-achievers, I thought I wanted more. I am not settling by no means. I am just rekindling an old love affair. ;-)

Here are a few great videos by local performers that I thought painted a really good picture. One more website I would recommend - Gateway Macon.  Also - you know I can not leave without giving a shout out to my "second home" - The Tubman African American Museum. We are the largest museum in the southeast dedicated to art, history and culture of African Americans.

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