In 2003, freshly graduated from college and still newly married, I sold almost everything I owned, loaded up with my husband and made the big move from Chickasha, Oklahoma to Nashville, Tennessee. No, not a country singer . . . no musical aspirations whatsoever. We just wanted a fresh start, an adventure and Nashville looked as good a place as any.
I remember from the minute we arrived to the sweltering humidity of early May that we felt something electric in the air. The city was busy, but not in an overwhelming way. Unfortunately, the first apartment that we rented (for only the summer as it turned out) was crummy, but we found the city itself delightful, and we would continue to find it that way for the next 4 years.
Although in the heart of the deep South (and ya’ll, Oklahoma and Texas are not the South! They’re the Midwest!) Nashville is an odd and wonderful mixture of people from literally all over the world. My first job there was at a Marriott Hotel gift and coffee shop near the airport where I met Nashvillians from New England, California, Texas, Peru and even Egypt! It’s mostly a city of transplants who come to Tennessee for various reasons and just decided to stay, more often that not – forever! While this can and does make traffic a bit of a nightmare, it makes life in general very interesting!
Living in Tennessee for 5 years produced in me a deep love for Southerners. The Southern hospitality you hear so much about really does exist there. Parents still put their children through poise and manners classes, “Sir” and “Ma’am” are a must in everyday conversation . . . I know I was more well-behaved when I lived there 😉 But really, the people, the city – they just love to embrace newcomers. In fact, I was standing at a garage sale this morning talking with two gals that both used to live there and they both agreed, “I never felt more at home than when I was in Nashville.”
My dear friend Mandy was right when she said that Tennessee really lives up to its name as the “Volunteer State.” I’ve heard so many great stories of neighbors bending over backwards to help each other during the flood and its aftermath this past week. Here I am, nearly three years since my move back to Oklahoma. A lot has changed, but my love for Nashville and the wonderful friends who are more like family there has not.
Nashville – I miss you. I pray daily for healing and relief in the days to come, for hope and the strength to carry on when the devastation seems too great. Lamentations 3:22-25 “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.”