When I first moved to Atlanta seven (!!) years ago, I never really asked myself if I liked it. For one thing, I relocated to be with my college boyfriend and I didn't give myself permission to dislike the city. He planned to stay forever, so there I'd stay, too. Also, I didn't have a comparator. Your first adult city holds very little in common with college, or, in my case, childhood town.
Six months after moving, we went through a horrible breakup, which meant I was in survival mode. When you're in the thick of heartbreak, wondering if you really love your town feels like a luxury. I was just trying to remember to breathe.
By the time the post-breakup fog lifted, Atlanta felt like home. I had friends, a church, a small group and an apartment I loved. ATLove was my mantra.
Over the years, though, it became clear that Atlanta was a season, not a lifetime. It was just a little too big and busy for this Indiana girl. Now that we've relocated to Charlottesville, everyone keeps asking us if we love it. I find myself constantly reflecting on what feels incredible and what feels difficult about the move, realizing I never took the time to ask myself those questions during my early days in Georgia.
As I reflect on their differences, I'm noticing how easy it is to put a rose-colored veil across the city of Atlanta. The things I loved while living here are suddenly perfect in my mind. And the things that were bad? I sort of have amnesia. Was the traffic really all that bad?
Kidding, kidding. That one I won't forget.
I've noticed that this is often something we do in relationships, jobs and with roommates, too. The minute we're out of difficult a situation, we begin to glorify it.
After my early Atlanta breakup, every time I'd go on a bad date, the things I could remember about my ex were all perfect - the way he made me laugh, our first date, or our first year together...
My family had to remind me regularly about the pain he'd caused me, how frustrated I'd been and the day-to-day inconsistencies he presented.
The experience taught me a lesson that carried me through the next few seasons of my life:
Hold fast to the good in your past, but don't forget the truth of your history. Work through the pain it caused you and cling to the wisdom it gave you.
Let the difficult memories be what they were. Let the beautiful memories wash over you and carry you when your present situation feels difficult.