If you live in Atlanta, you know I-285.
Those traveling the north/south or east/west interstates call it the bypass but really it’s a loop that circles the heart of the city.
Locals refer to I-285 as The Perimeter.
When asking directions around here, one usually starts with “Are you inside or outside the perimeter?” For insiders, driving too far outside the perimeter is akin to an “out of state” road trip. For outsiders, driving too far inside the perimeter requires a course in street life savvy, the kind that keeps you from turning down the wrong street in a Walking Dead episode. “NOoooo... don’t go THERE! Zombies ahead!”
(Hey, it’s not my fault. A friend got me hooked.)
These days, life outside the perimeter mimics conveniences of city life.
And for some who choose to settle outside, it’s “close enough” to live on a perimeter that bypasses hardcore city commitments with softcore city-like amenities.
Time was, a reasonably clear inside/outside demarcation could be made
but now the inner feels a lot like the outer while navigating this Nascar-esque bypass. In the speedway blur, you think you are in the city proper. Looks like it. Feels like it. Sounds like it. Smells like it. But not it.
Now, lets switch gears. (Hey, I’m working a metaphor here.)
Think about the heart.
Your heart. Where it resides. And who resides in it.
Like Atlanta, your heart is the city.
The closer to the center the stronger the pulse as blood pumps (emotions, passions, dreams, fears) through the arteries and side streets with all the pedestrian conveniences. Culture. People. Parks. Coffee shops. Nightlife. But also challenges like traffic jams, convention re-routes, and one way do not enter streets. Get the picture?
This is you. You living and loving in the heart of your city.
Enter new relationship.
(Or awaken in an old one.)
Maybe you meet this person on the loop
and do the bypass-dating thing for a while. After all, it’s close and has enough of the amenities you need to make the trip worth it. Both hearts are protected while enjoying this exploration of the almost-city. You like the neighborhood, so you rev up your motor a bit and turn into the beyond casual dating zone. Day and night traffic blurs the perimeter lines as you drive deeper into their city – while they remain on the loopy bypass.
Do you notice that they are riding the perimeter or choosing the bypass? If you do notice, do you:
a. Give them time.
b. Hand them a map or upgrade their GPS.
c. Decide close enough is enough.
d. Figure you can work with it and/or change them.
e. Acquiesce to this one being better than the last one.
g. All of the above.
h. None of the above.
What do you do if you find you are the only one in the city, the only one in your heart?
Or are you?
Cities have a lot of vacant buildings – urban flight and all that. Did you fall through the cracks of a heart broken by past city dwellers or squatters? Did you take flight and not notice? Are you waiting for someone else to give you permission to move back into the city? Reclaim your heart? Did you get caught on the good enough is close enough loop and is that how they got away with looping the bypass? (Add “for so long” if you are in an old relationship.)
Lots of questions, I know.
But finding the answers offers a pedestrian view that allows you to occupy – not bypass – your own heart while deciding if you will continue the drive into theirs. If you don’t embrace your city life, with all its traffic jams and conventioneers looking for a good time, who will? And if you are not present to your own heart chances are you’ll dismiss theirs – or miss the exit/entrance ramps that will get you where you really want to go and ultimately reside.
I know this because I am well traveled – loops and all. No judgments here, folks. Just some street savvy and a patched up heart in a city with as many streets called Forgiveness as Atlanta has called Peachtree.
Pssst: This heart bypass metaphor can be applied to other relationships you have ... like why a job is or is not working for you or where your creativity is or is not hanging out. There are no limits where the heart is concerned!
So, tell me what routes you've been taking these days!
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