“I don’t know if I could navigate Atlanta without a GPS,” Alex said one day, exasperated by all the street name changes, street name similarities, redundancies, and lack of grids. “It’s the old wagon and ferry trails,” I said. “Ferry trails? Well, the tooth fairy couldn’t find her way around these trails without a GPS,” Alex joked.
I had learned to drive here, so for me it was no big deal getting around when Alex and I arrived from LA. When I was young, before I was even of legal age to drive here, I snuck out the car. It was a stick-shift and we lived at the top of a steep hill (goes to show you how much thought went into my decisions back then) but I made it back up that hill okay, and I don’t even think my parents noticed the extra mileage.
By the time I was 17 or so, I knew all the back roads and shortcuts. I could get from Sandy Springs to Druid Hills without hitting a freeway or nary a light. I kind of prided myself on taking the road less traveled. I didn’t know all the street names, but I knew the landmarks. There was the little corner grocery store in the middle of one of Buckhead’s finer neighborhoods—now just another large home. The Lark and the Dove restaurant—turned into a Ruth’s Chris corporate diner… I mean restaurant. There was La Paz and Al Zaps—which might still be around—but most of the old individually owned places are no more. Now the landmarks all blend in with each other… there’s the Starbucks, and the other Starbucks. The nail salon, and the other nail salon, and the other nail salon, infinitum….
There must not be many itches left to scratch out here, what with all the nail salons. Alex once tried to describe a place we’d been to by saying it was right near the nail place, then realized that could be any strip mall in a 60-mile radius. They all have them. And now they’re going up-scale in bigger and fancier locations with water features and names like Paris Spa, and Renaissance Nails.
I think I can appreciate a nice set of nails more than most men, but come on—how many of these places do we need? And if you’re getting the fake ones, I must say it’s obvious at a glance and even more obvious when they touch your skin.
I will always remember my grandma putting me to sleep as a child by gently running her nails up and down my forearms. I was in heaven then, under sheets and blankets softer than anywhere else I’d ever slept. And her nails? As real as she was.
Grandma didn’t use a GPS (not that she had the choice). I do now, even in Atlanta most of the time, I hate to admit. Every so often though, I like to shut it off and just find my way around like I used to when I was young: Tearing around hillside curves and down Northside Dr. in the middle lane of the interchangeable three lane road, punching it over a crest to catch some air, knowing full well there may be someone accidently coming the wrong way….
Fortunately, for my and everyone else’s safety, that last part’s only a memory. I can just imagine if Alex was with me—fingernails dug into the dashboard in white-knuckled fear. But, hey, at least she’d be able to find a nail salon to fix her up after she pried her fingers free—wouldn’t even need a GPS!