I may have been born in Lawrenceville, but another city holds the title of “home” in my heart. Monroe, Georgia has been my hometown for the past twelve years, and its riveting culture and diverse populations have attracted others like my family for generations. It has the hospitality of a small town but the ambition of an urban sprawl. As a resident, I often find myself walking through the historic streets of downtown while enjoying a java from the Coffee Camper, eating lunch with friends at the Cotton Café, sifting through hidden treasures at the plethora of available antique shops, or exploring the beautiful gardens and parks Monroe has to offer. Even my internship at a local news company has allowed me to become more acquainted with my little town.
The shops of Downtown Monroe are among the most exciting places I have had the opportunity of exploring. Every little strip offers a certain charm which I have yet to discover elsewhere. Take The Story Shop for example. Located on Broad Street, The Story Shop captivates young minds with towering shelves of books for all ages, accompanied by thoroughly decorated rooms. Read The Hobbit while actually sitting in a hobbit hole concealed behind a round door; explore the adventures of Dorothy while trekking along the Yellow Brick Road; duel with wizards in a cute Harry Potter themed chamber, or even discover Narnia behind The Story Shop’s elegant wardrobe. This creativity lingers all throughout historic downtown in airy ice cream parlors, scented candle shops, and amusing cafés. Visitors can find themselves at night wandering for hours along the cobbled streets in awe while lit trees guard their path. Saturdays offer their adventures as well with a local farmers’ market selling anything from fresh tomatoes and okra to homemade pies.
After grabbing a good book from The Story Shop and a chocolate ice cream cone from Scoops, I like to stretch out on the maroon hammocks of Hammock Park and enjoy my afternoon. Hammock Park, the size of only a town square, is just one of the many little spots around Monroe which offers pleasure and relaxation to visitors. Speckled along the streets of downtown are small enclaves of assorted activities. One of my favorite areas is an alleyway dotted with drums and cymbals along the walls for passersby to play. Another alley offers small libraries perched on shelves like birdhouses along the brick walls. Near the Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts, a floral courtyard supplies benches which are perfect for reading or napping among hydrangeas and daisies. If residents feel a little eager to get on their feet, they can play a tennis match or a baseball game at Hammond Park near downtown. However, I often find that strolling through the extensive sidewalks of the inner city is exercise enough.
Much of the fondness I find in Monroe, however, is not given to me by quaint shops or exciting parks; I find it in an internship I am involved in with a local journalist. Writing stories has always been an extensive hobby of mine. However, I have gravitated to writing more nonfiction than fiction throughout the years. For this reason, I explored the opportunity to intern for YourLocalNews in Monroe. As an intern, I am able to delve deeper into the city I have grown to love while sharing this love with others. Over the years, I have written several articles and columns for YourLocalNews which thousands have read. These assignments, including pieces about local clubs, societies, and events, have allowed me to discover more about Monroe. The pleasure I have gained from writing for others has driven me to decide to pursue journalism as a career.
I may find myself in the future moving to another city, state, or even country, but I will never stop calling Monroe my hometown. I owe it to the people of Monroe who have created spots which I will always remember: lounging outside the awning of Scoops with my friends, enjoying salad for lunch with my mom at the Cotton Café, discovering antiques at the various pawn shops, and curling up with a good book in the hobbit hole at The Story Shop. Despite the thrilling years I’ve lived here, my quaint city still offers me so much to share with my children one day so that they experience the joy and adventure I find in Monroe.