Nashville

There is something about Nashville that is very good for my soul. When I leave Nashville, I feel good – rejuvenated, really. When I leave Nashville, I feel like I can take on life again.

It could be my love of country music & especially old country. Maybe it’s seeing images of women that I respect & admire such as Dolly Parton & Loretta Lynn around the city (a worthy random note – allegedly Loretta Lynn is my 4th cousin according to my dad and aunt Patty) It could also be my love for vintage & antique shopping. Maybe it’s the bomb southern food. Or maybe it’s my favorite little celebrity-ran boutiques are all clustered up in the most darling little neighborhoods that I want to fully explore one day. Could be the music pouring out of every neon signed bar & honky tonk down Broadway. Could be that it’s just mountainous enough for me to get my fix when I need to see them but city enough to where I don’t feel suffocated. Hell, I actually think it’s all of that!

But really? I leave Nashville feeling so good because of the family I have there. I adore all of my family but I have learned, some of them it’s best I love from a distance due to burnout. My Nashville family? I don’t have that issue with. My Nashville family have never felt the need to ask me invasive (ie : rude) questions such as how much our rent is living in Orlando, what I see in my boyfriend (“is it a sex thing?”), or why I chose to dye my hair the dark shade that I do (I have fuckin’ grays, mind ya business). I have “ran away” to Nashville every time I need a soul cleansing and it works every single time. I wouldn’t call this time “running away” but this visit stemmed from just missing my people. I’m in a group chat with all of my cousins and it hit me hard one day that ,wow, I really miss these people. My cousin & his wife just had their baby in April and due to Covid I wasn’t traveling and didn’t even want to travel but day after day I would see the cutest pictures on Instagram and Facebook of my new sweet baby cousin/nephew (we are both only children so I’m claiming aunt status on his baby instead of cousin status) and I just couldn’t take much more of the FOMO! It was time to go.

Clinton & I packed up and headed off to the airport on Thursday and after a short, smooth, hour & a half flight, we made it to BNA & was picking up our rental. Before we did ANYTHING, we drove to Hattie B’s for lunch so I could have my beloved hot chicken & pimento cheese mac & cheese. It was everything I remembered! We then drove down Broadway so he (probably mostly me) could see it & then we went to my cousin Sara’s. Again, I am an only child and technically Sara is my 3rd cousin but in our family it just never felt that way – my dad & his cousins were always close so their kids were always around me. I’ve always considered Sara more of a sister to me than her actual position in my family. None of this makes sense & I’d actually have to map out my family because honestly, we’re more confusing than the bloodlines on “Game of Thrones”. But yeah – Sara. My third cousin/may-as-well-be sister. We spent every single summer together, most Christmases, and a lot of random weekends when one of our parents would randomly decide to drive to the others. I would say easily 90% of my childhood laughter was with her. I have always associated being with Sara with laughter. We stayed over there damn near all evening & Clinton really hit it off with her man, Charles. They sat and talked cars, racing, & derbying all evening & I never once worried about him not “meshing”. It does a heart good to see the one you love clicking with the ones you love! Sara & I even took off to go get dinner for us all & as we were setting it all up at home, my cousin Gus & his wife, Bruna showed up with new baby “O” (he has a name, duh, but privacy). I hadn’t met Bruna before but she is amazing & of course, baby O is amazing & so sweet. I even held him & if you know me at all, this is a shocker – I don’t hold babies. I don’t WANT to hold your baby. But O? Yes. I wanted to hold him. I want to hold him MORE! I even want to BABYSIT him one day! And he didn’t cry…he gave me the side eye a lot but he didn’t cry! I feel like babies are like animals in the way they can smell fear so I truly expected him to cry & I’d have my feelings hurt but me & O? We did good together even if it was for 10 minutes.

That night we drove down to Dondi’s, where we would be staying. Dondi is my daddy’s cousin, making us 2nd cousins, but again – she’s more like my aunt. I adore my Dondi. She is the perfect yin & yang to me – a total hippie whose home smells of essential oils & has crystals & plants “charging” and “cleansing” all over her beautiful home but also had been in the military most of her life & won’t care to beat your ass. I look up to her in so many ways – and she is the one I run to when I need the soul cleansing. I went to her before I decided officially on divorce, I went to her during troubles with Clinton, I went to her over my weight gain. If ANYTHING happens to me, I run to her. And she says something ridiculously outspoken and blunt that should be obvious, yet when Dondi says it you’re like “Holy shit she’s right! Brilliant!” and the clouds part and suddenly you know what to do with your life. She recently opened her own massage studio in Nashville and asked me & Clinton if we’d like to come get massaged. Of course we would! So that’s what we did on Saturday – we all had breakfast together with her husband Dan, and then made our way to the massage studio for a very blissful 4 hours (yes! We got very lucky & she gave us 2 hour long massages) – my massage was so soothing that I fell asleep on the table! I went shopping during Clinton’s massage (her studio is VERY close to all those little celebrity-ran/owned boutiques I mentioned above!) but when I came back, she had him pain free, walking straighter than he has in ages, and completely giddy over how good he felt. She even hit him with a few Dondi-isms and he was repeating things she had talked with him about – issues he has with certain people in his life – about how he “just needed to breathe and let that shit go!” and he was telling me in the car “…and it just hit me. She’s RIGHT. I DO need to let this shit go or I’ll never have any peace!” and I’m just sitting beside him like “Well I’ve only been telling you this for 2 years now but YES! Isn’t she great?!” and he is so happy he proclaims he’s buying her dinner when we go out that night!

Saturday, he & I dipped out early to have breakfast at Biscuit Love downtown & I wanted to take Clinton down Broadway for real this time. Breakfast was amazing but Broadway didn’t do it for us at all as so many places were still closed. We tried to rent those little scooters from Uber & ride around but after 3 failed attempts in the crazy heat I got irritated and blurted out that I’d just walk and he could do whatever – he finally found one that worked for about 5 minutes then died as he was going uphill. We gave up and went back to Sara’s. The 3 of us girls had plans anyways around midday – so we went to pickup Bruna & get started. The 3 of us ended up back downtown to The Stage for some drinks & laughs before having to head back home because baby O wasn’t feeling very good for his dad but it would be okay because that night we had a planned family dinner at Dondi’s for all of us. It was so good. Just what the heart needed. I just wish we would have gotten a full family photo!!

My heart is happy & I didn’t even go for a soul cleansing this time, even though that’s what I came home with. See, not only was I meeting Bruna & O for the first time, Clinton was meeting EVERYONE for the first time & vice versa – would they love him? Turns out, they DO. He has gotten rave reviews! He also finally met my mother for the first time this year and when we left I just felt so at ease. It’s really quite lovely being with someone who fits so easily into your life with no awkwardness. To have your family, whom you love & respect & value their opinions, hug your man and tell him that they love him just warms my soul.

We are hoping that on our next trip up more things will be opened and we are also planning on making the drive to Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniels distillery together – I went 2 years ago with Sara & we had so much fun! OH and let’s not forget, Clinton wants more massages (actually I wouldn’t say “no” to that myself!)



“It’s good to know that the ones you love will always be in your heart. And if you’re very lucky, only a plane ride away” – Carrie Bradshaw




– Autumn

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