Greetings, earthlings. It's go time. Thanksgiving is here, and that means the holidays are officially upon us. Yeah, it's the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the busiest. Some years, I get in such a flurry that the Turkey Day to New Year's Eve stretch turns into a total blackout. I wake up on January 1 wondering what the hell happened. All the crazed deadlines I get nailed with right about now make it really easy to drop the ball on the important stuff... you know, the stuff we're actually supposed to be celebrating. Friends, family, and oh yeah, being thankful.
So today, I have no pretty products for you to shop. I have no famous folks for you to read about. I have no playlists for your listening pleasure. I spend so much time on this site celebrating strangers that I thought it was high time the people who exist in my day-to-day got their due in the spotlight.
What are you thankful for? It seems so obvious to stop and ask ourselves this, but I'm ashamed to say that sometimes, it's an easy thing to forget. I am thankful for so many things. Year 26 of my existence has been exceptionally superb, and lately, it only seems to be getting better. So many things in my life that I have asked the universe for, I am slowly being granted. I cannot believe my luck. Yes, I could make y'all a list and we could check it twice, but when it comes right down to it, all of the great things in my life would be nonexistent without the primary thing I am so grateful for this year: my friends.
Relationships have always been a pretty sacred thing to me. I'm notoriously a tough nut to crack. I don't trust easily, but when I do, I do it completely. My best friend Chris always laughs at me, he says with me, "you're either in or you're out." Meaning if I don't think you're worth a damn, for all I care, you can go jump off a cliff. I have a tendency to make people prove themselves initially because I have a low bullshit threshold. I believe the only relationships worth having are based in mutual respect. But if we have that respect? If I truly care about you? If you're "in?" I will probably jump off that cliff for you. Because of that, I have always been super selective about who I let into my world. But for some reason, since moving here, very few have made me think that hard about it.
In Palm Beach, I had a group of “friends” who, for the most part lived way too fast, talked way too much shit, and with whom often I never had any clue who was actually my friend. Distance and time often grant clarity though, and I see things a lot more clearly now than when I was wrapped up in that life. To paint you a picture, one of the girls who I was close with on the island went as far a few months ago to write me a six-paragraph hate email from a fake alias gmail with every possible cut-down she could think of, barring calling me ugly. After getting over the initial shock, I had the IP from the email validated to ensure it was who I thought it was, and reluctantly showed it to a few friends. I remember being so sad that someone was capable of that, but also so surprised that they would dedicate THAT much time to it. Another blogging pal I have, who’s a much bigger deal than me, shrugged when I showed it to him and said “welcome to the big leagues, kid.” I remember sitting at SoHo house in New York, having an amazing late birthday celebration with two of my dear friends, Van and Ward, and getting those emails. “Jess!” Ward exclaimed “you have a stalker! That’s kind of chic!”
By no means was everyone from the island like that, I still have people from there, like Van, who are wonderful and I stay very close with. But I was so conditioned to believe people were that nasty from Palm Beach that I wasn’t prepared for how quickly and genuinely I could trust people here to, quite simply, do right and be right. Getting that email quickly helped validate that I had made the right decision when I moved here, and I have never looked back.
Atlanta has been very good to me, but it sure as hell isn't the geography that makes this place feel like home. Let's be real. People don't come to Atlanta to marvel at it's beauty and charm. The truly special thing about this city is it's people.
Before I moved here, I visited for a little preliminary "feel it out" trip before I made the actual move. My friend Sarah opened up her house to me, no questions asked, for a solid week, stocked the house with all the red wine we could drink, and happily watched Real Housewives with me on the nights she wasn't showing me the ropes of the city. A bit later, I moved over to staying with my friend Emmie and her husband Tommy, who despite being busy running the Southern Proper empire, took me on a veritable eating tour of Atlanta and put me up in their guest room.
When I finally did decide I was making the move, my friend Ashley, who I went to high school with and had not seen since undergrad, immediately invited me out for drinks and introduced me to her friend Cathy -- someone who has become one of my best girlfriends here and opened me up to an entire posse of amazing girls, no questions asked. This group of girls helped it feel like home so quickly that despite the fact that I've still lived here less than a year, I can't imagine this town without them.
During my first week here, the blogging/writing/menswear crew, who included some folks who have become some of my favorite people to spend time with in this town, like Caroline, Hil, Trip, and Ashlyn, saw it fit to gather a huge supper club at JCT and celebrate my 26th birthday. And that's how I kicked off living here. It was like this town gave me a giant hug and hasn't let me out of it's embrace ever since.
Since that first week, I've met so many other people who I now count among my best friends - Hilary, Chuck, Kirk, Daniel... don't think I'm overlooking you guys (happy Birthday, Hilary!) With amazing new people coming into my life all the time. This town is just an infinite stream of awesome. Every single one of these guys have had a significant impact on me in such a short amount of time that I can’t believe I ever accepted anything less from people elsewhere.
Quite simply, this town fosters a community where people are good to one another. Being raised in the South, I know all about hospitality, but this has extended far beyond good manners. It’s just, well, good. Purely good.
People who know what it is to not only be a friend, but have one, are to be treasured above all else. It's a true love, one not to be taken for granted. I have shared cocktails, laughter, sorrow, and everything in between with these people. They are my foundation in this town, and they took care of me during one of the biggest, scariest transitions of my life. They took something that could have been really hard and did more than throw me a life raft; they built me a boat.
So this year, I am grateful for the people in my Atlanta life. For my friends. My confidantes. My dinner buddies. My partners in crime and community. I love each and every one of you and I am honored to have you in my life. Every time I leave home, I can’t wait to get back and see y’all. So even though I'll be raising my glass from Florida this Thanksgiving, I'm raising it to you. Thanks again.