One week from today, the movers will be loading up my U-Haul truck and sending me on my way out of Birmingham for good. This move is not really by choice; I'd stay in the Salty 'Ham if I could, but the company that bought my apartment building back in the spring needs to have everybody out by the end of the month so that they can complete the massive renovation work they're doing, and without a job it's going to be kind of difficult to convince anyone else to rent me a place. So it's back to Columbus for (what I hope will be) a very brief period, crashing at Mom and Dad's and awaiting my next assignment, wherever that happens to be.
It occurred to me as I was boxing stuff up earlier this week just how much I'm going to miss Birmingham -- obviously I had to weather some unpleasantness there over the last few months, but I also made a whole bunch of really good friends through work, the state Democratic Party, the volunteer work that I did, and basically just by virtue of living in Five Points, where I got to know a whole bunch of people (often just by virtue of taking my dogs for a walk and having Jenna stroll into every open door she came across). There's a lot about the city itself I'm going to miss, too, so this week's +5 is a fond look back at Five Things I'm Going To Miss The Most About Living In The Salty 'Ham:
The Central Time Zone
Living in the Central Time Zone was kind of a pain in the ass when I'd be driving to Atlanta or Columbus and would have to add an hour to my travel time, but otherwise it was great: got to see all my shows earlier, football games included, and there's just something about getting to wake up on a Saturday, make some coffee, and tuck in for a couple hours of "College Gameday" while still in my jammies. (Between the time difference and the overwhelming availability of good barbecue, Birmingham is a lot more conducive to laziness than I ever realized. Maybe it's a good thing I'm getting out of there.)
Living within walking distance of my office (when I had one)
Fortunately, whatever lazy fat-assedness to which I was vulnerable was canceled out by the fact that I could get some exercise every day just by walking the six or seven blocks to my office -- only now I'm worried that I've become spoiled, because I'm dreading the prospect of actually having to get in a car to get to, and find a parking space at, the next place I work. I grant you, I'm kind of a keyed-up individual to begin with, but nothing makes the veins in my forehead bulge out faster than getting in a car and then having to sit completely still because nobody's going anywhere.
Chez Fon Fon
One of Frank Stitt's three Birmingham joints, and my favorite restaurant ever. Good food (that isn't even all that expensive, given the quality), friendly wait staff, talented bartenders, and hostesses who were always guaranteed to make a fuss over Champ and Jenna whenever I'd bring them by. Before I take off next week, I may have to buy an entire coconut cake from them and ration it out to myself over the next few months.
Cheap Southwest Airlines flights
I didn't get full exposure to the magic of Southwest until I'd been in Birmingham for several years, because, well, I never had the money to fly anywhere interesting. But I've now taken SWA on a number of football trips out west -- Tempe, L.A., Dallas -- and I've realized just how much I'm gonna miss having a low-fare carrier right in town willing to take me just about anyplace I want to go. Without charging me twenty bucks just to check a fucking bag. (Not that I'm bitter about that, Delta.)
The Blue Monkey, J. Clyde, Dave's, and all the other bars within walking/stumbling distance of my apartment
This might actually be more important than being able to walk to my office. To be able to indulge at so many fine draankin' establishments and never need to call a cab or risk a DUI charge just to get home -- well, that's kind of a big deal for a lush like myself. I'm gonna miss you, J. Clyde, and all the work you did to ensure that Alabamians are able to purchase decent beer. I'm gonna miss you, Dave's, and all the fine people-watching opportunities afforded by your patio. And I'm gonna miss you most of all, Blue Monkey, whose martinis and female clientele were both top-notch. I really hope my next job, wherever that happens to be, doesn't land me in a town where my best drinking option is to sit at the bar at Applebee's and hit on secretaries.
And now the Ten:
1. Bob Dylan, "Fourth Time Around"
2. Stina Nordenstam, "People Are Strange" (DJ Shadow mix)
3. Pet Shop Boys, "London" (Radical Blacklite edit)
4. Pete Heller, "Big Love"
5. Supréme NTM/Cut Killer, "Nique la Police"
6. Radiohead, "In Limbo"
7. John Coltrane, "Acknowledgement"
8. A Tribe Called Quest, "Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)"
9. Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"
10. Dino & Terry, "Croque Monsieur"
I don't expect many of y'all to have any reasons to be missing Birmingham at the moment, but if you do, feel free to throw 'em in the comments; your own Random Tens, as always, are welcome.