In my excitement for our new city, I would be remiss to let my love for Birmingham–and the people who made it great for us–go unspoken.
Our move was a whirlwind.
In two months, we received an offer from Columbia, accepted the offer, sold our house, packed up most of our belongings, and moved to Manhattan. We said a lot of goodbyes…a. lot. of goodbyes before moving. We were able to look forward confidently due, in large part, to the people that loved us so well in the Magic City and the way they wished us off. We felt loved and cared for, and we are forever grateful.
I arrived in Birmingham in February of 2008. I drove over with a few clothes and my iMac. That was about it. I came with no real plan other than a job that I was really excited about and a new horizon, a new chapter.
I was excited about living in a “big” city–what would that look like, who would I meet?
After a few months, I had real community–the kind of friends that have been there through big life things and every emotion. The kind of friends that I’ll have forever. Even now, when we get together, all just feels right with the world. These friendships are deep, and these people are family.
For the first few years, I lived with some of my best college friends. We had a great little cottage in the Hollywood neighborhood of Homewood, and we navigated the beginning of adulthood together. It was almost like college part II. These girls have seen me at my best and at my worst. They loved me well through all of it. I adore them, and I can’t imagine my Birmingham experience without them. The night before we left, they sat with us in our mixed emotions. They fed us and gave us a place to sleep. They gave us comfort in our transition.
I had some amazing mentors in the Creative world-people who were patient with me as I was learning as a young designer. These people helped shape me as a Creative and also as a person. Thank you. You know who you are.
The Lord led me to Red Mountain Church pretty quickly. Where do I begin? This church showed me what Christian community looks like. I saw grace and the Gospel here in a whole new light. I saw what perseverance looks like. I saw honesty. I learned about social justice. I saw people passionate about their city and the people in it. This church walked with us in joyful times and in hard times, too. They wished us off with dinners, and blessings, and prayers. The people of Red Mountain constantly reminded us that the Christian’s hope can never fail.
In Birmingham, the Lord brought Jonathan and me back together–this time for forever.
After some time apart and several conversations in between, we decided to meet and talk about our future. I’ll never forget seeing him walk up Red Mountain. I’ll never forget his face and that moment. The city was our background and the place where he told me he’d never let me go. I knew then that God’s timing was much better than my own.
Together, Birmingham became our city. We married right outside the city at American Village on a very cold but beautiful February day.
It was in Birmingham that Jonathan bought a home for us. He surprised me with it. I still remember seeing it for the first time. We started our marriage at 1812 Mountain Woods Place. There, we started traditions of our own. We brought home a puppy. We hosted parties, dinners, and movie nights. We decided early on that we wanted the doors to our home to be open. And they were. That house looked great at Christmas. It had a huge backyard that felt like it was worlds away from everything and became my retreat away from the world. It had a great little back porch. I loved to sit there. I could sit for hours. Through every season we’ve walked through, our home was steady and loved us well.
One thing we loved about our house was the neighborhood, and more specifically, the neighbors. We had never had neighbors quite like that. I developed a special bond with the women of our neighborhood through an early morning Summer bootcamp program that we all did together. To say that these women loved me well is an understatement. They helped me tear down a wedding at midnight. They helped me get through two broken arms. They checked on Copper and and came to my rescue when he was about to get in a fight with a possum. They surprised us with goodies just because and blew out that candle I thought was still burning when I left the house–they were just there. Constantly. I miss them already…and their sweet kiddos. We felt like Aunt Sara Beth and Uncle Jonathan on the block, and we loved it. I treasure the moments we had with them, and every instance they stopped by to ask if they could throw the ball to Copper or have a popsicle.
To the men that walked beside Jonathan at work, at church, and in life–you guys are great. Thinking about you all now, I’m overwhelmed with the love and grace God showed us through you.
I’ve mentioned it before (to anyone that would listen), but it was in Birmingham that I fell in love with food. I maintain that the Magic City has some of the finest food around and should be a Southern destination for self-proclaimed foodies. Some of my favorite moments in that city were with friends around a table and a long meal.
Birmingham attracts great music. From the time I got there to the week we left, music in the Magic City was its own character in our story. I think back to all of the festivals, City Stages, music halls, and favorite amphitheater shows. We saw Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers a couple of nights before we left, and it was the perfect symbolic bookend for our time there.
One thing I’ve always said about Birmingham is that it is a city that wants to be great. I believe that desire propels cities. In my time there, I saw 2nd Avenue North go from a quiet street to a bustling downtown meeting place. I saw the city center greatly revitalized by Railroad Park and Regions Field. I saw businesses and entrepreneurs taking ideas and running with them after the Recession. I worked with the Community Foundation and was able to see firsthand how much they were doing for the city and how they are bringing people together.
I appreciate the people that want Birmingham to be great. We were lucky enough to be surrounded by those people, and we are grateful for that. We got to listen and learn from visionaries and people that are passionate about moving the city forward–people that want to see divides broken and changed. People that want to see it thrive in its uniquely “Birmingham” way. Like any city, Birmingham is not perfect. But I believe that it is a great city indeed.
Birmingham, you are beautiful.
Thank you for loving us well.
Special shout-out to Lucas Fitts–who captured us and some of our most special moments at 1812. Thank you for a gift that we will treasure forever, Lucas.
And to our families-there are no words adequate enough. Thank you for visiting us, helping us pack up, and holding us as we said goodbye to our home and our city.