It's true. All you've heard is pretty much correct. You'd love Nashville.
And I did.
I landed in August at a four-story lake house 35 minutes from town with a private dock and awesome outdoor space. A week later someone bought a boat. Don't ask me how these things happen - I've stopped asking silly questions.
My only roommates were some very large and talented spiders.
The memories of Nashville now blend into a humid stop-and-go blur - locals will understand - but man a lot was packed into those few months in music city. The first big-time event was the incredible eclipse that blocked the sun almost directly above the house and turned a random Monday into a house party, with multiple California friends descending on Old Hickory Lake.
A five-day/ four-game baseball trip initiated us into the heart of the Midwest – St. Louis, Chicago (Sox & Cubs), and Cincinnati.
A dual-birthday celebration for Chris and myself happened with a little sunshine and a lot of nothin.' So what if I threw the anchor overboard without checking to see if it was tied down?
Awesome birthday dinner at Butcher Town and pool and brews at Bearded Iris with great friends... Nashville has a lot of normal people that like to visit strangely named restaurants.
California transplant #3 Luke P. showed me around Tennessee's most visited state park - Fall Creek Falls SP - and not it's not just a repetitive title.
I bought a bike and we took off for Asheville, NC and toured the breweries and waterfalls of the eastern Smoky Mountains...
Dupont State Forest is beautiful and expansive - and even includes the canoe scene from Last of the Mohicans.
I wasn't staying for free, I had to do some odd home repairs and staining of the deck. Ala Mr. Miyagi - "whole fence..."
The Nashville dating scene was happening but apparently not to me, so I got proactive and brutally honest.
My posh but solitary lake stay ended a little abruptly so I shacked up with another set of California transplants, Mike, Shaylene, and Benny the bouncing boxer. There about an hour south of Nashville I was tormented with shows like This is Us, multiple Hallmark movies, even the Canadian family horse drama, Heartland. I can tease now because whether it was the cozy house or the oncoming winter, I will admit I got sucked in to most all of them.
A great thanksgiving with the Bakers and Kings, and to cap off my Nashville experience, Old Crow Medicine Show at the Ryman Auditorium on New Years Eve. And yes, Wagon Wheel at midnite.
I tried to use my winter hours wisely, building a much needed new website and even finishing a book I’d written a couple of years earlier.
Overall my Nashville was about what I expected: great barbecue, college football, bachelorette parties by the hundreds, humid and rainy summer afternoons, even my first official snow day happened where I couldn’t make it to work. Yes I had a job for those snickering.
It’s gonna sound like a country song but though I took myself 2400 miles away from California, from the redwoods, from the fog, from any trace of John Olmsted connections, I couldn’t escape my story. Everywhere I went, everyone I talked to, though I never sought it out it just seemed to rise to the surface like a dead minnow at the end of summer.. the story of why I was here.
All those miles, all the self-analyzing and wondering about purpose and direction, and the one thing that people seemed to perk up upon hearing about was exactly what I thought I was leaving behind. You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t… well you know.
I don’t really know when I knew it was time to go. Heartland had ended and Shaylene might claim that was a factor. I’m sure my job being a little sporadic had something to do with it, and the fact that my little art business, though small, was way behind in sales since the rep I had didn’t work out. I can’t say it was a feeling either, I’ve had those in spades, changes or moments that “felt” so right and perfect and then just weren’t. This was different. I was fully aware I was jumping back into an uncertain pattern, but I wasn’t deluded. I was planning as best I could for a life that it seems, is mine whether I embrace it or not. Many have had to be convinced of their path more than once. Some many times over.
Cleaning out my car before heading west, I found a note I wrote to myself - on the back of a business card from an interesting music producer I’d met. He used to work with the director Tom Shadyac so naturally I had lots of questions. After hearing his stories he wanted to ask the questions, and of course we ended up talking of Pygmy Forests, John Olmsted, documentary films, and choices. My note to myself after that meeting was simple.. “I’m here to tell my story.”
Maybe I’m finally getting convinced.