Monday, April 28, 2014

Left my Heart in...Nashville Actually

One of the issues most twenty-somethings won't admit to is feeling torn between wanting to live it up in a big modern city versus settling down in a neighborhood with lawns and mailboxes. Most of us grew up that way with our families, and most of us turned out pretty well because of it, but if you asked if we want the same thing we'd swear "we'll never settle," and we can't imagine living like that. At least not until something reminds us of how amazing it was.

The minute we got off the plane in Nashville, something seemed different. It had been a long flight, it was late at night, and I guess irritable travelers are just something you learn to expect, but every single person was 100% sweet and polite. That kept increasing through baggage claim and out to the car where Stephanie's friend Lyle (who sounds like Luke Bryan, hello) and her dad, Ron, who was immediately the funniest person in the world, took care of our luggage and even opened our car doors like that's a regular thing everyone does. We added pizza and beer to the equation and I was pretty much hooked then.

Steph and Ron at Mafioza's Pizza!
Our first full day in the south started out with what might be the world's best tacos at Mas Tacos Por Favor with Ron and his sweetheart Leah. Our shamefully full stomachs basically forced us out for a walk through Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Right at the park entrance I could hear a riding lawn mower and started to smell fresh cut grass. Stephanie and I both freaked out like we'd forgotten how great that was! And seriously, a riding lawn mower? You could probably count those on one hand in all of San Francisco. My dad mows the lawn at my parents' house in the East Bay on weekends, but I guess its been a while since I actually sat and enjoyed it there. I'm not sure I could live somewhere permanently without it.

The state park was a real eye-opener. There were several memorials throughout it that were all inspiring. One of my favorite feelings in the world is the pride you get from a little patriotism, and nobody does it better than the South. Every piece of history there is a reminder of why we built this nation (and yes, we the people built it) and how hard we fought to make it happen. Obviously there isn't much Revolutionary War history in California, but I never realized what we were missing out on. The history books in school don't do it justice, you really have to stand right there to appreciate it!

This quote from the TN Constitution should be remembered more often.
We ended up at the State Capitol building and I thought we were just just going to take some nice pictures of it and walk around outside. Last month I tried to take my mom to San Francisco's City Hall and we were told it was closed to visitors - we said, "it's a public building owned by the citizens, you literally can't be closed to us." Tennessee seems to value that fact a whole lot more, because we ended up not only entering the capitol building but we were welcome in every single room! We could have walked right into the governor's office without a problem. We wandered through the room where the House of Representatives meet, we sat right at State Senators' desks in congress, and we gave "State of the State" addresses at the press conference podium. We met everyone in there like we were meeting neighbors. Closed to visitors my foot, San Francisco.

Feeling like Elle Woods.
We jumped on bikes to make sure we could see as much as possible before dinner. There were the sweetest little neighborhoods where anybody would be blessed to live, where everyone seemed to take a lot of pride in their home. We might not realize it now, but there's something special about growing up seeing your parents always gardening and working in the yard. Kids in Nashville will have that, but most kids in San Francisco and New York City won't. I think I want my kids to know what a wheelbarrow is when they seen one.

Riding our bikes down the road completely terrified me - we're talking the frozen muscles, talking to myself out loud kind of terrified. I couldn't figure out why I was so scared until we hit the "busiest" area, and there were cars total, all driving perfectly fine. I had been thinking of San Francisco streets, where you literally couldn't pay me to ride a bike on the actual road with all the lunatic cab drivers. The sound of the spokes spinning around took me back to when my sister and I would ride bikes with our dad and grandpa. Those are some of my favorite memories and even though I was a scaredy-cat kid, I'm pretty sure I loved it. I think I'd rather live where I won't feel physically ill at the thought of riding a bike on a sunny day.

Here's me being a wuss. I swear we were riding on the street, just not in this picture. 
This all probably sounds common and trivial, but I can't help that little things like lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, and bike rides were what stood out to me. All the parts of life that we're supposed to pretend we aren't thinking about yet seemed more like an adventure than an "oh my god I don't want to seem old or weird" secret. When you travel, you fantasize about the life you could have in all the different places you visit, and Nashville felt like something I could really go for without being wildly unrealistic. Maybe I'll get off the plane and get hooked on San Francisco life all over again, but I dare you to visit the south and tell me you don't fall in love with it, too. Good people, good homes, amazing food, and the music ain't half bad either ;)

The world's friendliest place to bar-hop.
We covered so much ground over one great weekend, it's going to take me a whole separate post to tell you about how crazy-great the food was. You and I both know that's why you're here! Stay tuned ya'll. 

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