On my travels through North Carolina this week, I met someone who had worked in my hometown, Birmingham, on temporary assignment.

He brilliantly summed up our fair city in one short observation: “Birmingham, it’s complicated.”


It should be the slogan. Maybe it’s not the prettiest or catchiest, but it is the boldest.

We’re a complicated lot. We’re friendly, but we’re sometimes intolerant. We certainly don’t get along when it comes to cooperating to get much of anything done.

We’re moving forward, but at a barely perceptible pace. We have faults we recognize, but become defensive when others point them out.

I like simple. I like it when things go smoothly, predictably. And yet I stay.

It’s complicated.

I look forward to the burning hot summers and weekend food festivals and hazy ozone-infested days. I enjoy the relatively modest traffic and bars that come and go.

I really like how people keep trying to make it a better place. They haven’t given up, and I haven’t either. But it’s a struggle.

Too many condos. Too many plans without action. Too many poseurs. Too many cars.

Not enough drive. Not enough spirit. Not enough resources. Not enough success.

It’s still about race, and bad schools, and high crime, and no leadership. It’s about taking comfort in the way things never seem to change or evolve.

We’re not the prettiest or the catchiest, but we could still be the boldest.

Complicated? Absolutely. Hopeful? It is Birmingham, after all.


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