At 17 years old, I knew it all: I'd become an artist, marry a Hollywood celebrity, and once I moved away from home I'd never come back. NEVER. So in 2004 when I left Columbus for college in New Jersey, I began making plans for all of the above.
Ten years later, one of the things I knew is still true: I'm a playwright. As for the others, I married my best friend from college and we live, of all places in the world, in Columbus, Ga. That's right: home is home again. And despite what I felt at 17, this city is actually just right for a young couple with a new baby. Even for a playwright.
There are moments I hardly recognize this place. Restaurants featuring global cuisines can be found off every exit, coffee shops and specialty beer and wine bars have sprouted and thrived, downtown day and nightlife is more active than ever, No Shame at the Springer Opera House packs a weekly house for "lay-artists" to share and celebrate original performances, and Columbus State University has that gorgeous new art campus on the river. The foodie and thespian in me jump for joy.
The mom in me jumps for joy too. My daughter gets to grow up surrounded with multiple layers of love and support from family and childhood friends. And when it's time to go out for a walk or play date, I rarely have to dress her in more than one layer! (Try that in Boston, where she was born! Not so much.)
Here are a few of our pleasant Columbus surprises since moving back last May:
We connected with an old high school friend and her husband and found we make an excellent double-date match.
For the first time, we joined a running community (yes, after leaving the home of the Boston marathon) in the Columbus RoadRunners and ran a handful of 5Ks over the summer.
I've eaten the best Indian food I've ever had (yes, after living in New York City for three years) at one of our local South Asian spots.
I found a haven of theatre professionals and students that are as dedicated to bringing a diverse array of theatrical works to our community as I am. In fact, with their help, I'm gearing up to self-produce one of my own plays this year for the first time in my career!
Last but certainly not least, our 11-month-old daughter has become best friends with her great-grandmother, a blessing which would have been practically impossible if we lived anywhere else.
I can safely say that 17-year-old Natalia missed the mark. I not only came back home, I also fell in love with it for the best reasons -- and with my young family! Here's to the next 10 years and enjoying all of it.
What are some of your favorite developments in our community in the last decade? Tweet me @cafeaulazy.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent.