We parked the van in the curb in Grant Park, where our old friend Neil lives with his friend. The evening was warm and breezy.
Adam came over too. We had met both guys when we all lived in Saudi Arabia. Adam made some killer blueberry mojitos as we reminisced about the old days in the Middle East, made pasta and had a good old drunk night.
My hangover was bad. Neil made us eggs and guac on toast for breakfast, and way too early, we went for a bike ride through Grant Park, where the Atlanta Zoo is.
Later that day we met up with some of Neil’s friends in the same park. I snacked on “pimento cheese”, apparently a southern thing, which is mayonnaise, shredded cheese, and red bell peppers. I guess they eat it in sandwiches down here but I was dipping carrots in it. We played bocce ball for the first time! Like beginners do, Edd and I won.
Later a few of us went downtown and we ate at a Jamaican restaurant for the first time! Cabbage, yams, stewed meat and jerk chicken were all on the menu. There were also a few imported goods for sale. It was all both tasty and pricey. But there was an atmosphere inside the place that was really happy. We took the food down the street to the new German Beer Garden.
The garden had a corn hole game set up, where you get points trying to toss a corn-filled sack into a hole. We tried our hand at that too.
The following day was Easter Sunday. I took a run before breakfast around the neighborhood, which is on the upswing, though you may look at it as gentrification. People are taking care of their houses, even though it may come in the form of men using push mowers while wearing loafers and their hair gelled to a side-part. This is what I saw on my run. To be fair, there is a slight chance he was in his Easter best.
Neil’s family invited us to their house outside Macon for lunch. We met at least 20 of Neil’s relatives, even though he had said it was just going to be “a few people”.
This was a very different South than Neil’s neighborhood near Grant Park in Atlanta. Sitting at a beautiful dining room table with his sister, cousins and in-laws, we ate American food I had never even dreamed of. The most interesting was congealed lemon salad: a molded ring of lemon gelatin mixed with shredded cheddar cheese, and served with mayonnaise in the middle. It was unexplicably delicious. There were savory little “zipper peas” which didn’t look like peas but instead like teeny lima beans, and creamy summer squash casserole. We cleansed our palates with sweet tea. The South is a country I am only getting acquainted with.
Neil’s family was very kind to us. They were so chatty and friendly and his mom even gave us Easter gifts. We felt warm and fuzzy.
Neil wanted to show us around the country. We went to Juliette, where the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed.
Afterwards, we went to his parents’ gorgeous ranch-style house in the country. We hopped up in a Jeep Wrangler and Neil gave us a tour of the surrounding property, some of it his family’s, some of it his neighbor’s; I don’t think we knew where one property began and the other ended. We saw pecan trees and deer.
Then Neil’s dad, an ex-cop, appeared and asked if we wanted to shoot a handgun. Well I think Edd probably mentioned that to Neil first. So Neil’s dad got out bullets, a Glock, and a target. Edd had a turn, then Neil. Edd hit the post. Neil hit the target. Then they gave the gun to me and said it was very easy to shoot. I was really out of my element, and I was wearing wedge sandals.
I put those big ear muff things on and stood as still as I could. That trigger was tough to pull. I got scared the gun would come flying out of my hand. But… “pup, pup!” Casings fell on my face like confetti. I didn’t hit the target.
Personally I don’t support gun use, but I’d love to be a great markswoman! Who wouldn’t? (Archery, anyone?) I am very grateful for Neil’s dad for letting us try.
Neil’s mom was the sweetest woman. She made us coffee and gave me a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which takes place in Savannah. I didn’t want to leave their house!
Before getting back to Neil’s in Atlanta, we stopped for grub at Delia’s Chicken Sausage. They have a variety of hoagies with chicken sausage, of course. We ate so much that day.
We tried a lot of new things in Georgia. This is the second time we have visited Neil and Adam in Atlanta, and we think the city is really cool. And outside is a country I never knew.