For a moment allow me to set the scene: I'm in the Classic City on the corner of Jaskon and Clayton Street. The air out side is a little to cold for comfort for this time of year (53 degrees), but that does not matter much. I'm at one of the only bars left in Athens that has remained through the whole time that I have known the town, Flanagan's. At this time of day the crowd at the bar is light, a few electricians, and a few frat boys tyring to score with the bar tender. Flanagan's is always dark; you can't tell whether its midnight or noon, and there is always good music playing. As I walked in tonight Dave Matthew's "Lie in Our Graves" was on at just the right volume, loud enough to hear it and soft enough where two people could carry on a conversation with no trouble. In the 8 years since I left Athens nothing has changed at Flanagan's.
I have not made it a secret that I grew up in south Georgia, but on nights like this I think it would be more appropriate to say that is where I spent my youth. The facts point to Athens as the town where I grew up. When I came here in the fall of 1999 I was nothing more than a cocky boy with no perception of how the world really is. Not to say that I was sheltered from reality, only that I was very good at ignoring it. For the better part of 10 years I spent my nights drinking, partying, wasting my education on Clayton Street, mainly at the Bird Dog Saloon. I can recall one night when I had seven girls around me that thought I was with them or though I would be latter. At the time I thought it was pretty slick to manage to get out of the situation with out making none of them mad, but now looking back, that seems pretty selfish. On the other hand, its a thousand nights just like that that contributed a large part to the person I am today.
If all I had were nights like the one just mentioned, the path that I'm on would be quite a bit different than the one I'm on tonight. However, as it turned out I was not with out friends that were some how able to influence me in another direction all together. If it weren't for the people who were good enough to set positive examples 10 years ago I'm not sure ( and don't want to know) where or how I could have ended up. So to all of you folks I owe ya'll a debt of gratitude. The shame of it is, of all the friends I had then I only see one one a regular basis. Either I have moved on or they have, but the influence old friends had on my life is still inside me, and I guess that is what counts.
Here's to the Classic City and the people that made me what I am tonight