I always loved stopping in Nashville. Growing up, it was an overnight stay or quick dinner on the way to our grandparents’ home in Memphis, but I always looked forward to the city on the other side of the Tennessee gorge.
Then, Nashville to me was Opryland Christmas lights and Demo’s steak and spaghetti, and, if we were lucky, line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon. It was usually the week after Christmas, and the streets of Broadway were bare, the locals traveling to see their families. (Not that the locals would frequent Broadway anyway 😉 ).
But although I loved visiting, I never considered that Nashville could be more than a stopover. It was an in-between but never the destination, and definitely not home. Until I found myself signing a job offer and apartment lease. In Nashville.
And then not even four weeks after moving in, I was driving back to North Carolina after receiving the worst news of my life. I decided I was going back home, where I would stay, with my parents, forever. But that’s not what happened, either. I went back.
I say all this to explain that the odds were stacked up against Nashville.
I didn’t have a magic moment that told me to return to this city full of strangers.
I feared that my choice would make my parents’ lives even more lonely and painful.
While I hoped the job I was taking was the right choice, most people thought the risk was too big.
I didn’t know what it would be like to return to a city who’d never met the brother I just lost.
I hated the idea of slipping my family’s tragedy into every new introduction and small talk that came my way.
I thought I’d never form true friendships or let anyone in to because my story was too sad.
Over two years later, I’m still here. I don’t have a formula for making friends in a new city or tips to making a decision about a big life-change, and I can’t even tell you that I’m always confident I made the right decision. But I can count the goodness.
There’s goodness in the families who took me in and made me feel like a sister who belonged. They were with me when I received the news about my brother, drove me home to my parents, and haven’t left me alone since.
There’s goodness in trying community and the equally awkward and amazing results. This week, I sat with a group of friends at church, and we laughed at inside jokes and made plans together for the week. On my way out, I remembered last year’s weeks-turned-months of church hopping and sitting alone. Isn’t it funny how we miss the way seasons change and fruit grows?
There’s goodness in the ways exploring this city feels a little bit like church. My current visitor recommendations include brunch at Josephine’s (skillet cinnamon sugar donuts, you guys.), coffee at Crema (sip the Tennessee Pride with their almond/coconut milk. Thank me later.), and burgers at The Pharmacy. My favorite writing spot is Barista Parlor Germantown, and I’m always popping in at Vinnie Louise in 12 South.
There’s goodness in letting new friends into your old story. Maybe they’ll shrink back in horror, but maybe they’ll be exactly what you need. Over chips and salsa, someone recently asked me, “So I’ve gathered that your brother is a big part of your story. What do you need me to know about him so I can be a better friend to you?” I mean, ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, you guys. Still weeping over this for real.
There’s goodness in taking risks and meeting up with someone’s friend’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s ex-wife’s daughter who just moved to Nashville. You’re either in for a best friend forever or a good story later.
There’s goodness in giving yourself grace to stay home sometimes, because in doing so, you might just realize that home is in a different place than where you left it last. It’s Nashville, my stopover city. And I may just stay a while.
I’m finding that counting the goodness may not solve problems or provide answers, but it sure does bring us home. Hoping the same for you today. xo