Life is a Highway

Walking Through Nashville

I have a meeting to prep for, blogs to read, and hundreds of e-mails to answer.

604 e-mails, to be exact.

Sorry about that, y’all. Some of those are from you.

I’ve never let my inbox get that full before, and I’m putting it off for another night. Instead, I want to end a long day with a free write capture of my journey through downtown Nashville.

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This is a city whose airport corridors ring with live music and hopeful terminal walkers–guitars and dreams in toe. I wrote most of this while I sat in a hotel bar and listened to a singer/songwriter open his arteries out into an audience buried in the noise of their own lives. His name was Dan Storm. “Like the weather,” he said when I asked him.

I am a fan of synchronicity and was tickled by his name given that one of my early pieces, Storm Chaser had been picked up earlier in day by Schuylkill Valley Journal. Like a spring rain, Mr. Storm’s voice was soulful, soothing, and healing after a long day.

He was talented, but probably felt like I do sometimes. An artist with a voice and a message that can get lost in a cataclysm filled with others who are louder, more assertive, and less shy.

And that’s okay.

The world needs people with a quieter tune; someone poised with a less obtrusive undertone and subtle presence to permeate spaces too small to fit everyone. His voice added to the melody of hum and hope in this city.

But before I had settled in to listen, I’d already had an entire adventure the hour before. After landing, I’d went for a run/walk through the off-downtown side of Nashville–my name for it. Not on music row, but close to the river, Titans stadium, and around the square–which was actually a circle!

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I love the individual pulse of each city I visit, and I’m so fortunate to have a job that grants my wish to travel the country even though the curse is that I’m away from home.

This was one of those trips that I would have rather been at home, but I decided to skip the pity party and make the most of it. The weather was perfect–overcast but warm–and the voices of the city crooned with a chorus of departed commuters and thrummed with notes from wanderlust explorers like me.

Given a choice, I’d choose over nature trails over urban landscapes. But Nashville was calling and I needed to go!

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I don’t know directions, or where I will end up during these adventures. And despite my best efforts to ditch the phone in the hotel room, common sense always wins and I take it just in case of wrong turns or the need to photograph flowers, bricks or doorways–or all three.

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I’m still learning about Nashville, and like any city, there are cultures that color each corner. Much of the time, I’m confined to Brentwood which allows a trip to Radnor State Lake when I have time. But, overall, Brentwood is like most suburbs of a city–clean, vanilla, and a place to pass through to get to another.

Downtown, there are different experiences depending on if you turn left or right. In my case, the decision to do either was purely accidental. I’d intended to trek down to Music City and roll around in the Johnny Cash room before ending up in Elvis’ gold car. But the cadence of staccato footsteps and toppled bricks lured my writer’s brain to the allies, side streets, and spots down by the river. The vintage graphics along Printer’s Alley sucked me in, and I stayed within the two-mile perimeter outside my hotel.

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According to my Fitbit, I traveled over 5000 steps and climbed a few floors in the process.

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After the trip, I sat down in the hotel bar to listen to Dan, and munched on sweet potato fries. It was my way of being with others without having to talk to anyone. The glamorous life, right?

Just as inspiration was starting to leave with the day’s sun, he sang, You and Tequila and I had to stay for another set. I wrote my ramblings, listened to the buzz of the city, and felt my words set anchor as the music filled the spaces between.

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Dan Storm. You can find him at http://www.DanStormMusic.com

Do you ever walk along strange cobblestone looking at streetlights and sidewalks and imagine the people and stories who have traced the steps before you?

Where do you explore? How do you search for what’s next? Who do you look to for answers?

Not all who wander are lost, right?

Given that I am more lost than found on any given Monday, I am blessed to have multiple compasses to find my true North. Or, in my case, a place to the west of here.

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Throughout my walk, I SnapChatted with Tanna, helped Dane find Elmer’s glue via text, and commiserated with the hubs about the sinking Royals and what happens when you take a starving teenage son grocery shopping. Per usual, my adventure included wrong turns. But like life, the people I love helped me find the way.

This job? Some days I think it’s killing me. Other days, I’m grateful that it grants me the opportunities to explore places I would have never found.

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*****

Special thanks to Dan who let me fan-girl for two sets while I wrote. Be sure to check out him on his website and find him on Spotify. The playlist captures the songs he covered as well as a two of his originals.

The video? Well, I gotta tip my boots to Kenny every time I’m in Tennessee.

 

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We are all just walking each other home ~~Ram Dass

68 thoughts on “Walking Through Nashville

  1. Oh, I LOVE Nashville. My best friend since college moved there last summer, from Boston. She’s an empty nester and a music fanatic, so she went where the music is.

    I like the Nashville men. Big ol’ chivalrous cowboys that warm this East Coast girl’s heart. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is SO cool! I remember you getting stranded in Nashville during a snow storm, right? The people here (and in the rest of the state) are so nice. I’m here almost once/week, but rarely get to stay downtown. This was a rare treat.
      Thank you for reading, Samara! I hope you’re writing adventures were awesome yesterday 🙂

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      1. You have a great memory – I DID get stranded in Nashville, in February of 2015! Ha!

        I’ve since made up with Nashville. You sure get to travel to some cool places, don’t you?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Very cool piece Mama. Although you often write about your experiences – which I follow with rapt attention – you sound far more introspective in this piece than I have ever seen you. Perhaps it was being surrounded by the history swirling in dreams forming, dreams coming to fruition and dreams being crushed. It is interesting that when we are most honestly and unabashedly subjective sharing our feelings and thoughts, that is when we become most objective – suddenly we realize that our deepest, most sensitive, personal core is shared by all humanity. It is a very humbling. Thank You.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. WOW, Paul! What an amazing comment…and so insightful of you. For whatever reason, I do get more introspective when I write about places and landscapes. Not sure why. This is such a musical city, so I tried to capture the music by paying attention to the sound of the words. I guess when a person gets that granular, it’s going to be more introspective.
      I’m so honored you noticed. I will probably write more pieces like these as I continue to work in different places across the country. There’s so much more to see than what’s in the travel brochure.
      You would know all about that, wouldn’t you?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yeah,I know the feeling Mama. It is inspirational …ummm… be careful Mama. There’s a reason why so many Jazz musicians are alcoholics. I’m just sitting here fitting the pieces together – what you have chosen to show us about yourself integrated with the smokey bar and live music. I’m sure you’ve done this before so use your best judgement and experience. i can tell you this – if you do not have demands on your life, like places to be or people who depend on you, you can quickly fall into what I call the Cheers syndrome. That is unlikely to happen to you because you travel so much. But I’ve seen truckers who have gotten attached to the darkness and sharing of a bar because they were avoiding other problems – home life or financial problems or career issues, etc. i’m sure you’ll meet people just like that in your travels – and it happens to professionals as often as blue collars.

        But on the positive flip side – nothing gets the pulse of a community like the local watering hole with tunes. You know I used to read National Geographic and they had a 2 -4 page section at the end of each issue called “Zip Code”. It produced the flavor, mostly in pictures, of a different zip code in each issue. it ha a very similar feel to this post – very down to earth, under the skin, dusty feel of reality – no polish, no chrome,just reality.

        Very well done Mama – I look forward to seeing more.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You are so wise and considerate. In fact, I’m expecting a lecture from hubby when I get home. Not so much about the bar (I usually hibernate in my room), but more regarding the walk-about. I’m always very careful and research the safety aspects with people I trust before venturing too far. That said, you are so correct. There is a lure to the darkness…the trick is to find the light that waits on the other side.
        I hope you’re staying safe yourself (fires?) and that your travel plans later this month will match with mine to be at home when you’re here. Take care and always, always..thank you for being an amazing friend.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Awesome. I’m sure hubby will keep grounded (as in always having someone you love at the end of a trip). You are right – there is a light on the other side. Yep, I’m cool. The date for the Vancouver move is still floating around. They have to do some construction to the house (BC has very strict rental rules that require an inspection which turned up a foundation crack and sewage lines that have to be upgraded). So depending on the weather (the sewage lines require digging) the move in time is now somewhere between June 15 and July 1. It will be a few weeks before we get a sharper date. I am praying that the delays will be over then. As a bonus to us for waiting the owner is giving us rent free occupancy until October – what can I say. Oh, on the good news front, Australia has just opened up their retirement age to 67 and the owner has signed a contract with his company to work until then – which is now 8 years and 6 months. His visa has been officially upgraded as well. If they will allow, then he would like to retire there – which would make the house permanent.

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  3. When I saw your title in my Inbox, the song “Walking in Memphis” immediately went through my head. I don’t know why… it was just a tickle I guess. Another one of my favorite songs but the funny part is… I have never really been to Memphis! LOL!
    I LOVE Nashville! It is only 2 hours from my hometown of Paducah, KY and we used to go there often. In fact, my hubby works from home thru a company out of Franklin and when he first took the job, we thought we would move there. Turns out he didn’t need to be in the home office after all… thank goodness. I just didn’t want to move again, but Nashville would be right at the top of my list of places I would live (outside of Texas) but I don’t plan to leave here anytime soon.
    I love your words this morning. Your writing always speaks to me and I feel a soul connection to them as if you have plucked them right out of my head. Walking the streets of that city is so cool. It has so much history and resonates with the spirits and energy of talent beyond measure. It is the mecca of the music industry no matter the genre and it literally oozes from the brick and mortar of the alleys and walls. Austin has that same vibration but in a little different way. It’s not quite as quaint as downtown Nashville….I love Austin too, but not as much. Thanks for sharing this morning! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment made me so happy. We are soul sisters, aren’t we?
      And, I’m so stoked you noticed the word play for Walking in Memphis…it was intentional 🙂
      Memphis is very cool, and I’m mesmerized when I visit there, too. In fact, you’ll be seeing more of stories like these as my travel is picking up again.
      I’m going to come back and finish my comments to you, but I’m hopping on a plane and mostly wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I drive right by Memphis going and coming to KY from TX but I have only stayed there overnight south of downtown for a business trip. I drove home the next day. I know there are several cool things I would like to see but there are so many other places I would rather go if I have time to travel. I appreciate you as well… your post made me happy and YES, we must be soul sisters, it is amazing how much we have in common! 🙂

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  4. I drove through Nashville on my drive from NY to CA but didn’t really get a chance to see the city. I remember the hotels were all booked so we had to get a room on the outskirts. Ricky Gervais recently said that there will soon be no doctors or lawyers because everyone wants to be famous. I’m sure the people of Nashville are no exception.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s another fun fact. If you aren’t a musician in Nashville, you are probably a doctor or a lawyer. Interesting place for sure!
      It’s a mess to stay down town, but worth the traffic once you get landed.
      Thanks for reading…I can’t wait to get caught up with you, too.

      Like

  5. Beautiful pictures. Love your reflections and how you can work up the discovery writing even while on a work trip. That’s awesome! And the helping your son find Elmer’s glue via text cracked me up. That’s what I feel I’m always doing in my family is helping them find those crazy things like glue sticks or shoes. That you can do so in a text is a talent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, the constant hum of the home. Today he can’t text for Elmer’s glue because he said his phone was “stolen.” He let me know via SnapChat from his iPad. What would we do without technology??
      Thank you, thank you for your kind words. I had fun writing this even though it didn’t really fit within the typical bloggy stories I usually share. I have the best friends ever – you who let me ramble and still read.
      Thank you, Char. Xoxoxo

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      1. That sucks. I’m putting my boy off for a couple months because I figure it’ll be better to get a new phone with a Utah area code rather than an Idaho one that will be long distance for everyone at our new house.

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  6. Ah, Michelle….lovely.
    Loved the pictures too, your photos are so gorgeous…
    and I just have to reiterate what paul said above…there is something really different about this piece. Quieter, moodier…..the pics match it.
    I was very relaxed reading it, sucked into nashville (a place I have never been).
    I loved your sitting at the bar being with people without being with people….I don’t go to bars to do that anymore, but i find places all the time and just BE there (and it’s even better with sweet potato fries!)
    anyway, really gorgeous, i’m glad you decided to write vs. answer emails.
    Gift to all of us.

    xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it amazing how filters and lenses can change perspective? I took these photos with no fancy lenses, but I wanted the filters to reflect my mood. I’m so honored that you picked up on what I was putting down.
      I’m coming back to comment more, but I just had to hop over to say thank you for noticing. You always get me. Xo

      Like

  7. Now then, Nashville is where Merry and whatserface ended up, in Andra’s book, innit?? I like the photos because they gave me some idea of the scenery there, but I LOVE that you get to travel and feel the different vibes of the cities you visit.

    HOORAY for mobile phones and connection, though, wherever we are.

    You, my dear, are living life abundantly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww…thank you, Lizzi. Speaking of mobile phones and connections…I have been terrible at doing so. Just know that I send you happy vibes everyday–especially on those that I’m most silent. Xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s nothing like walking around and exploring, especially when an area has a past that is still so palpable. I loved walking along with you. Thanks!

    We’re not going to make it to TN this summer, but I’ll be taking my Little Dude to FL in a few weeks for a while. Very different vibe down there.

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    1. Palpable…that would have been a great word to use! You do the same type of writing when you wander through the trails or past neighborhoods. What I wouldn’t give to see you write something like this about a new place you visit. You have the gift of observation and am so curious to know what your lens would have been on this walk.
      Wanna hitch a ride the next time I’m in the south??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. PS. You just totally inspired me to change how I’m writing my current blog piece. Thank you!! I knew what I wanted to write, but it was coming out so clinical and dry. This! This is why I love to read your writing. Inspiration!

        Like

  9. Stunning photos. Thank you for sharing them. I have literally never traveled for a job and love that you explore these cities because most people don’t. Also like how you describe connecting with your family via text and snapchat. We do that too when the kids or husband are away.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. One of the things I love most about your riting and your posts is how they always ground me in the moment while, simultaneously, taking me somewhere. This was no exception. I’ve been to Nashville a few times as a chef, but it’s been many years. This trip was a sweet combination of your experiences mixed with my own memories. Thanks for bringing me along… ahhh, sweet potato fries and a cold beer 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love Nashville!

    I noticed you left Atlanta off your favorite places when you listed them to Samara. Busted!

    Love that Tequila song…that’s a recovery thing too…one is one too many, one more is never enough. 🙂

    I like Kenny, but the original singer songwriter Matraca Berg is my absolute favorite. It was on my writing list for a longtime. May still be?

    Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah…busted! I do like Atlanta, but Decatur more. I think the difference is that I need to walk around a place to get more of a feel. I don’t feel comfortable in downtown Atlanta like I do Nashville.
      That said, GA holds a place in my heart because it’s your home ❤️
      Oh yes…the Tequila song…I can see how that reflects recovery.
      I will check Matraca. Thank you!
      Now, young lady, get off the internet 😉
      Love you ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my God, I could just hug you!… Insane synchronicity… you. You are.
    I have been feeling rather ‘quieter’ lately, not just for the obvious reasons, but I was thinking my voice is only mostly heard lately for when I speak to the issues that surround my ancestry. The topic for which I am most definitely less shy. And you’re right, you who are a magnificent writer, the world does need those who can play more quietly too. It’s OK if I’m quieter poetry too.
    I’d also written to some friends, not more than 3 days ago, that I soooo needed to get back to Nashville. I wanted to hear the music and walk around the city and the river. And here you are, taking me there, in full detail and living colour. You. You are synchronicity. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg….your comment just gave me goosebumps! Wow. Wow.
      There’s something a little healing about Nashville, and I didn’t discover that until late last year.
      I’m all for the quiet these days…I may be hibernating for a couple weeks.
      That said, you are never far from my thoughts, and always in my heart and prayers. ❤️❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too… I have more ‘hibernating’ to do too, but no matter the matter, it’s only about re-charging isn’t it? I’m glad that you aren’t so perfect that you wouldn’t need to do that now and then too. 😀 The angel rests like the rest of we mere mortals…
        Oh yeah… I forgot about deep-fried pickles. Nashville was the first place I’d tried them. Never got over them. Never will. God bless Nashville deep-fried pickles.
        Have a wonderful hibernation… see you soon, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And, the synchronicity continues. I keep an angel statue in the cabinet above my desk. I keeping bumping and knocking it down. She just lost her left-side wing. The right one was missing long ago 🙂
        YES to deep-fried pickles. Love them.
        Love you 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. You write so beautifully, my friend, even amidst the busyness of your daily steps in life…even then you write with a passion and a desire to colour and underscore your words with beautiful pictures.

    I know it’s been a looooong time since I’ve been on WP, and it’s lovely to read, once more, the life that flows from your pen. :-). Great post! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hellooooo, my friend! How are you? I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I could feel a touch of magic when I wrote it. Speaking of magic…remember that poem you and I started over a year ago? How time flies! How are you doing? Are you back to regular writing? I certainly miss your poetry 🙂

      Like

  14. Love your Nashville trip! (Coming from Thurs. Doors, via, via…) and I love the doors you posted here. Nashville has that feel of celeb city, and since I lived for 3 decades an hour from Hollywood, I probably won’t take a trip, unless I’m in the neighborhood:) But st’s great to see it through your eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, hello!!! Any friend of Joanne’s is a friend of mine. Thank you for taking the time to stop and read about my version of Nashville. I was in Memphis last week, so I need to write about that city next.
      Thank you for taking the time to stop and comment. I’m on a bit of a hiatus, but I’ll be over to visit you very soon.
      Have a great rest of the weekend, Jeannette!

      Like

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