The stories we tell ourselves matter. Drugs, Money, and Sex don’t hold a candle to the power stories hold over humankind. Even our species, HomoSapiens, evolved past other species of humans, Neanderthals, because of our ability to tell and follow stories. Often the stories we tell ourselves about our lives shape us more than the events in our lives do. We elect a new president, and half of us are convinced the sky is falling while the other half praises the heavens. We hate our families for putting us through traumatic experiences as children, so we tell ourselves our parents are just as evil as Hitler until we get older and realize they were just people doing the best with the cards they were dealt. The canvas of events stays the same, but once our story changes, the pallets we paint our memories with a start to brighten.
In society, modern therapy to self-help books typically work on simply changing the story; you’re not a worthless loser, you’re just a loser who doesn’t know their worth yet. For a good reason, too, we can’t control the events; we can only control how we respond and form meaning from them. But every once in a while, God, divine intervention, or whatever you want to call it, strokes a majestic masterstroke over the paintings of our worlds. These events range from meeting our soulmates to getting a chance big break, or if you’re really lucky, an Atlanta sports team winning something.
I was born in Atlanta on November 19th, 1996, one year after the last Atlanta championship. My whole life has been full of events and stories of sports misery, from the Braves’ early postseason exits to 28-3 and all the mediocrity in between; the story of Atlanta sports was a never-ending tragic epic. Not only did this city consistently lose when it mattered most, but we also blew it in extravagant ways, 3-1 on the Dodgers in last year’s NLCS, Folty’s game 5, 9 run first inning, and of course, who could forget the 2nd half of the Falcons Super Bowl. Living in Atlanta, one gets used to being a national afterthought; we’re not the big cities where dreams come true; we’re the little city where dreams die. In Atlanta sports, the events are traumatic, and stories are hopeless.
But on November 2nd, 2021, The Atlanta Braves won the 2021 World Series. The narrative killed, the tears of pain, now tears of joy.
Four years prior, in 2017, my grandmother passed away. Ever since her passing, my sister and I started noticing the number “44” everywhere. We like to think it’s our grandmother looking down on us, giving us a little good luck. From time stamps to random ticket numbers, my sister and I will text each other about our little god winks, a sign we’re on the right path. The Braves dedicated this season to Hank Aaron after he passed in January; Hammerin Hank wore number 44. At the all-star break, the Braves sat at 44 wins; they went on to win 44 games in the second half and win the world series in the 44th week of the year. Four years after my grandmother passed, in a season dedicated to 44, the Braves won their 4th world championship in franchise history.
The canvas stays the same; we’re still Atlanta, only now our color palette is brighter.
We’re still not established culturally, economically, or sports-wise like NY or LA.
ATL still might be the city where the dreamers leave, but now we’re also the city where dreams can come true.
We’re no longer a city of losers; we’re a city of champions.
We’re still the underdogs, but to quote Joc Pederson, “we are those mother fuckers!”