Below is a list of eight things that I miss about Birmingham. I'm sure there are more, but these are eight that I came up with.
8. Old houses: Sure, lots of places have old houses, but Birmingham really has some great old neighborhoods (South Side, Highlands, Crestwood, to name a few) with houses built between the 1920s and 1940s. While I have not personally lived in one (though I did live in a 75+ year old apartment complex), I had a number of friends who lived in them and always relished in the comforting feeling of old hardwood floors and plaster walls.
7. "Mountains": While Birmingham's mountains are not every impressive by normal mountain standards, they did provide for a nice change in elevation, great background for the city, and beautiful vistas, which would include Pregnancy Point and Pregnancy Point II (these were names that I came up with, though I do not know if any babies were actually conceived at either place).
6. Mountain Brook: After I graduated from college, I was fortunate enough to live in an apartment complex in English Village, one of the three historic villages in Mountain Brook. While I am not sure if I will ever be able to afford an actual house in Mountain Brook, living in an apartment there was enough to give me a good appreciation. In spite of the "Brookies" who populate it, it is difficult not to enjoy the winding, tree-lined roads, beautiful old houses and mansions, and the walkable retail environments created in the different villages. Say what you will about it, I certainly wouldn't mind living there again.
5. Hipsters and their parties: Through various avenues I became somewhat acquainted with a good-sized part of the hipster population in Birmingham. While I mentioned this in my last post, and while the verdict may still be out on whether or not hipsters are actually a useful part of our society, I will say that they did add a nice bohemian flare to the city that I sorely miss in Clemson, South Carolina. They did create, or were at least involved heavily in, the art and music scene, and to see them driving around on their Vespas did add a nice cosmopolitan touch to the city. Most of all, as mentioned, I love their parties and Kids Got the Disco, a monthly hipster techno dance party, really seems to be getting pretty huge.
4. Magic City Lacrosse Club: I first played lacrosse in the 5th grade when I lived in NOVA, and then started playing again in middle school once my family moved back to Atlanta. I have basically been playing ever since. When I got to college at Samford, it was not surprising to learn that they didn't have a lacrosse team. However, I was able to find the local men's club team and played with them from my freshman year until I moved away last summer. I had a great time with those guys just getting out once a week and throwing the ball around and scrimmaging. It kept me (relatively) in shape and let me make some good friends. I really miss those guys and I really miss being able to play every week. If I do end up moving back to Birmingham, I will be at practice the first week back.
3. Red Mountain Church: I mentioned Red Mountain a few posts ago, but that church has meant a lot to me. Along with the things that I learned from great preaching, it has shown me how a church really is a family more than a building. It is about relationships and loving those around you as Christ did, in spite of what their past or present situations may be. I'm not sure if there is another church anywhere that is quite like Red Mountain, and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to attend there for as many years as I did.
2. Restaurants: I think that Birmingham is one of the best kept culinary secrets in the South. I would even say that the New York Times would agree with me. While I miss the nicer restaurants like Hot & Hot Fish Club and Chez Fonfon (I never actually made it to Highland Bar & Grill, so I will not include it, though I would still really like to go sometime), it is some of the smaller and cheaper restaurants that I probably miss more. Rojo, for one, is still hard to beat for a relatively cheap meal and a fantastic atmosphere. The line of Surin restaurants is some of the best Thai food I have eaten, and Taj India really opened my eyes to Indian food. Perhaps Birmingham's greatest boon, however, is its Greek restaurants. From the 24 hour gyro/hamburger places like Purple Onion and Al's, to the mid-level places like Taziki's, and the nicer places like Nabeel's and Fish Market, if you have a craving for some Mediterranean food, the Magic City is the place for you. Other favorites include Zoe's, Tip Top Grill, and too many bars to name.
1. Friends: Of course, I could not talk about Birmingham without mentioning the many friends I made there, many of whom still live there. I will not get specific for fear of leaving someone out, or singling someone out, but I will say that I really enjoyed having friends from so many walks of life, whether it be college or work or church or lacrosse or some combination of those. I really feel like I felt a great network of close relationships that would overlap and interweave, and I could really see what it was like to live in a community. I miss them, and hope that I might live in Birmingham again to try to pick up the loose ends of those relationships and continue on.