Frizzy haired girl: Do I stay in Birmingham?

Katie Turpen
Katie Turpen

Comebacktown published by David Sher & Phyllis Neill to begin a discussion on better government for our region.

Today’s guest blogger is  Katie Turpen. (We love when young professionals are guest bloggers)

Growing up within the walls of Vestavia Hills, I was lost in a strange suburbia land. I claimed the city of Birmingham but didn’t see it as my home. I was an awkward teen searching for an identity beyond my mushroom mop and quite frankly, didn’t see a future where I was standing.

After spending my college years in South Carolina and another volunteer year in New Orleans, I landed right back in my parents’ basement, once again a suburban but this time with a little more life experience. Working two minimum wage jobs didn’t exactly bolster a strong foundation of self-worth, but I realize it was simply part of the process of all of our journeys to somewhere. With high hopes, I headed off to the University of Alabama to pursue a master’s degree in community journalism.

It’s now time to decide where I will live while proudly clenching a master’s degree and hoping someone sees me as a useful worker bee. For the longest time I pushed Birmingham away, vowing I wouldn’t stay here and firmly believing that the city couldn’t offer me fulfillment.

I’m starting to see a city scene that is different than the one my frizzy haired self once envisioned from her Vestavia perch. New restaurants offer sizzling dishes for downtown loft dwellers to sample. Hip young professionals swirl on the bar chairs of local breweries.  The food trucks are rolling and big names in music are shuffling through the streets at a steady pace. The Birmingham Barons have settled in to their new downtown arena next to the modern playground that is Railroad Park. The New York Times even has something to say about us.

As I decide if I want to stay here, I think I see Vulcan raising his torch a little higher for me and I have a feeling I am not alone in searching for a home I didn’t know I already had.

Katie Turpen grew up in Vestavia Hills and recently graduated from the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in community journalism. Katie is currently a freelance writer in Birmingham.

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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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3 thoughts on “Frizzy haired girl: Do I stay in Birmingham?”

  1. *I’m from a vastly different generation, but I remember a very similar discussion with myself about this, my hometown. After college and a brief work spell here, I was away for 8 years in other cities around the Southeast, and chose to return after establishing a profession.  “We’ve come a long way, baby”, to use an ad slogan from long ago, but we still have more ‘long way’ to go. I hope more young professionals choose to stay and create the atmosphere and vibrancy necessary to move forward, culturally, racially and politically. I hope you stay, Katie. We need you.

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