I’ll be honest, I don’t feel much like writing this blog, but I’ve had this hovering need to write a closure post so that I can move on with my life, to start working on my book again (why can’t a first draft be the finished product?). Any blogs from here on I deem bonus, non-essential blogs.
When I first moved here, I thought that I would have all the time in the world to work on my book, and yet I found my thoughts consumed by the newness of my surroundings as my actual home, not just some place I ventured to for a mini-vacation. The overload was what sparked this blog in the first place, a place for me to share and process my new life.
And now, the processing of new Nashville is over. It’s officially just regular-ol’ Nashville and life is just life, not a new one. Don’t get me wrong, I still have that takes-my-breath-away moment when the road bends to reveal the city skyline. There are plenty of horrid Uber stories I regularly encounter (though I have converted to Lyft as they seem to have a higher caliber of probably-won’t-kill-me drivers out in these parts). There are still things like idiotic driving and catcall hollering that make me regularly want to punch people (but like, near a medical facility so I could make sure they were okay as even horrible people need proper care). There are still ridiculous, undatable men out there who have been deemed unworthy of even a ranty blog post (and some that, as of now, are seemingly, potentially worthy of my attention, thus my last posting).
How does one write a perfect closure blog? This has been my struggle. How do I know I’m ready to settle into being a Nashville local, not a Nashville newcomer? When will I know when I’ve arrived? The road to getting where I am on this journey has been long and challenging, but everything came to me, crystal clear, a few nights ago on THE 65 South.
A late night run to Target. These were pretty standard when I first moved to Nashville. When you move across the country with a loaded-up Chevy Spark, and ship only about five medium-sized FedEx boxes of clothing and other essential crap, have some basic home goods ordered via Amazon Prime, supplemented by Target.com Threshold 30% off furnishings, you still turn up needing little things like Windex, shower curtains, and other oh-yeah-I-didn’t-realize-I-use-that types of daily home dwelling basics.
In an attempt to not spend money, and to avoid crowds, my late-time rationale would usually be the time I would cave on crucial purchases like a secondary wastebasket and non-generic dryer sheets*. Target was one of the few places that felt familiarish – CrossFit and Trader Joe’s were the other two at-home safe places – as Target in Tennessee and Target in any other place have that big circle-in-a-circle logo, bright well-lit aisles, and affordable goods that my just-moved-and-I’m-broke self required. It was the economic savings and mental safety I desperately needed. It was the it’s-all-gonna-be-okay reassurance that not everything changed. I was me, Target was Target, and I would survive this transition.
*Threw away a good $4 on something other than Bounce that completely sucked and lacked that just-fluffed freshness moment my heart relies on for joy during every mundane laundry session…life lesson learned. Always buy name-brand dryer sheets.
Would I survive? My Target retail refuge may have only been (and still has, distance hasn’t changed) a 15-minute drive away from my apartment, just a quick skip down pothole-ridden I-440 West to THE I-65 South, but when you cruise down new paths, reliant on a finicky GPS that also seems new to Nashville, everything around you is a mystery and, as a result, a little scary. The poorly-lit freeway is probably something that is to be cherished by a normal earth-loving person – lit only by the moonlight, maybe a couple sporadically-placed road lamps, tall hills and trees on either side, serene and majestic in its natural beauty – but I found it swallowingly, terrifyingly wretched. Light pollution is glorious, it provides great comfort, and no one can convince this Southern California native otherwise. The anxiety of just how far I was from anyone I knew, and any place I’d ever been, would send me into a near panic attack, and my it’s-the-end-of-the-world freakouts may have been avoided had I not needed to restock the La Croix inventory that I was flying through in the midst of my new humid climate.
The local radio stations that I was just starting to program into my car’s stereo played stereotypical (I guess I should’ve seen that coming, with the wordplay and all) commercial after commercial about which jeweler is going to provide the best diamond guidance for a guy (he’s always clueless and wants to spend zero dollars) shopping for his soon-to-be-fiancée (she’s always wanting a ring the size of her fist and won’t settle for anything less so she can look good in front of all her already-married friends when they went out for lunch as couples after Sunday service) so they can live happily ever after, as well commercials like BOGO same-visit cappuccino days at Starbucks and call-in chances to win a pair of tickets to an upcoming Ryman concert.
I was alone. I made this choice, and despite the happiness and life-fulfillment I knew it brought me, in the stillness of the late night, my chosen isolation screamed so loudly, far above the radio attempts to make me feel the sting, and I would eventually have to silence out the annoyance/nausea by cranking up my Taylor Swift playlist for the millionth time. The internal screams were not ones of regret, and the internal would often become external at-random shouts, as if maybe the world around me could hear me, maybe California family could hear me, maybe-definitely God could hear me? I’d yell. Far away from everyone else who I made sure to talk to when I could wear my brave, strong face.
I’d yell it all.
What if I can’t do all this? What if I can’t survive this humidity? What if I never make friends? What if I can’t find a new job that makes me happy? What if I never find peace again? What if I can’t find good tacos in this town? What if I fail? I don’t want to fail. God, don’t let me fail! I cannot fail. I will not fail! I better not fail.” – Me, at the top of my lungs, attempting to also force some tears as an accompaniment to my grief and sorrows.
The first seven months of life in Nashville have been rough. It seems though, that since those first trips to Target and now, a ton more has entered into my life. My late nights, post-workout, would often trigger mental notes of supposedly-needed Target purchase list items but I would see the roadside warnings of I-65 evening closures for repairs, so I’d hold off, and instead, sneak over during my lunch break instead as my new not-in-my-living-room office was just blocks away from it. My daily commute would take me down that same road, just at a different time of day. It was only one night, months since my late-evening trips had been put on hold, that I legitimately-ish needed something from Target and decided to risk road closure detours.
As I got in the car, I pondered changing my outfit in case I ran into anyone I knew (it had been happening a lot around town). As I cruised down I-440, I navigated every pothole on autopilot and managed to only strike one before merging onto THE I-65. I mindlessly sang along to Place In This World (another one of my posts, by the way) as it popped up on my iTunes playlist to play softly in the background.
I exited the freeway, found myself in the Target parking lot, with no recollection of the final part of the trip that I just drove, and that’s when it hit me. Before I headed in to get my probably-not-actually-urgent Redcard-debited indulgent expense, I took a moment as I processed that this same freeway, the one that reminded me of where I came from, where I was going, where I wanted to me, was just an avenue for my chosen path, a journey now complete. It took me to Target, it took me home, and took me right where I hoped and screamed that it would.
I didn’t fail! I succeeded in all my dream fulfillment aspirations.
I got a job! Yes, I did already have one. But I worked from home, so I was very lonely, sedentary, and bored out of my mind. I moved to Nashville and started to seek out new opportunities, prayed something would surface that would be a step in the right direction. My new job is demanding, engaging, fulfilling, and all-around keeps me busy. My mind is happy.
I lost weight! The whole sedentary-and-lonely-so-I’ll-go-out-for-a-burger-all-the-time lifestyle really did a number on my body. Even though I was going to CrossFit a few times a week, I wasn’t really pushing all that hard, and I could feel my heart was strained, my body wasn’t able to move like it should, and I just didn’t feel like myself. My recent pound-dropping excursion was another reminder that I can achieve goals, I don’t have to feel sluggish, and that I can still eat burgers and cookies (it just doesn’t have to be 10+ cookies over the course of the day). My body is happy.
I made friends! Since Nashville isn’t a 2nd grade classroom, the method of walking up to someone and saying, “Hi! I’m Mellie! Let’s be best friends!” isn’t too welcomed, I took social interaction wherever I could find it in an effort to start to build a community of people, something that can’t be discovered by sitting in your apartment eating cookies all alone while swiping around on Bumble BFF. My latest social engagements are now difficult as I have to sadly click the No button on many Facebook RSVP invitations because my schedule is already too full with visits from out-of-town friends, travel engagements, birthday dinners, and other affairs. My efforts to find friends snuck up on me as I now realize I do have a very established social life. Life is meant to be shared, connected in spirit to those around you. My spirit is happy.
I suppose the real struggle of this write-up has been that things have been going so well that the overwhelming need to express anything beyond the normal-functioning mental process has not been a requirement for a sustainable existence in my life. Without angst, there has been no catalyst for my overcommunication regarding the mundane. For the sake of my sanity, this break has been, and will continue to be, welcomed.
For the sake of my creative soul, I’m open to the next unexpected spark of fury within that refuses to allow me to move on until what’s bottled up inside makes its way through my fingertips to the eyes of anyone, if only me, so I can discover what it means to me. In a few months, a man is allowed to break my heart, a boss is allowed to try and suppress my ambition, an aching sense of adventure is allowed to make a brash-rational decision, so I may soon begin to create. But for now, I am not going to write to experience life, I am simply going to live. That includes allowing a trip down THE I-65 – as despite my now-localness to Tennessee, I will continue to proudly include “The” in front of my freeway names like a true native Californian – to just be a trip, not an existential crisis.
I finally have closure. I’m finally home. Nashville is home.