Welcome to Virginia-Highland, Atlanta. I have been living in this double barreled neighborhood for just over a year now but there are déjà vu moments when I get the odd feeling that I have been here before.
Welcome to your Home from Home
Is this Hell from a previous nightmare? I stroll about the neighborhood, taking in the cracks of the pavement, the shifting calm of oak trees and shadows in the park; the local Baptist church spire pointing its finger at the open sky, and the decaying sports bodies -huffing and puffing- down at the local Boot Camp. There is something oddly recognizable about the place. Have I drifted back to Menlove Avenue and my sepia-tinged childhood? It certainly feels like Liverpool in the 1980s -- the buses come every hour and the stops have no timetables.
Perhaps this familiarity has something to do with the conditioning and the influence of American culture on Film and Television. This is because Virginia-Highland is one of those freakishly glamorous metropolitan suburbs right off the telly. A cooked up fusion of Knots Landing, Wisteria Lane and Blue Velvet. Can it really be like that? Not nearly but quite.
This is Midtown Atlanta and Midtown Atlanta is upmarket. Nuclear families ruled by paunchy, aged Jocks and Milfy types; neurotic runners, at all hours of the day and night, barking right of way on the sidewalk; Sunday drivers on road rage, distracted by the latest app; gay dads with display gardens and yapping dogs in astrakhan coats. The functioning and malfunctioning demographic of the hood is Healthy, Wealthy and White.
Up until the 1930s property in Virginia-Highland could not be "sold, leased or rented to persons of Jewish or African descent." But now that the British are here some future covenant might be drafted to ethnically cleanse our miserable lot from this charming community (fingers crossed).
Forget Buckhead and its one dimensional world of mansions, stereotypes and benevolent despots (philanthropists). The setting for Tom Wolfe's novel Man in Full is slightly past its social sell by. Virginia-Highland is the best place to flop in Atlanta. Why? Because it's quiet, central and where it's at for Whitey & Co. Houses go for $400,000 minimum, a one bedroom apartment is $170,000. I am not sure if we are priced out of the market, which I gather is on an upturn, but we don't mind renting until we find a more permanent pied-à-terre.
Until then I am safe in a world of picket fences, verdant lawns, fairy tale bungalows with fiber glass tiles and nubile lovelies playing "sand volleyball" in local John Howell Memorial Park Et in Arcadia ego!
At first I thought that they were playing in a dog toilet
olde English tax called Tonnage and Poundage comes to mind