Is There A There, There?


“Why are you going THERE?” everyone wants to know”…especially why are you going there for Thanksgiving.”

Because our granddaughter works and lives there. Her fiancé works there and they both love it there, so we’re going there.

And her parents are coming from California so we can all have Thanksgiving together and their youngest daughter, her second year at Pepperdine, is coming too so we can all be together.

“You’ll love it there” our California family says. “The FOOD!” they say without further explanation and this is the family that comes from the state that invented fusion food; a state where anything and everything under the sun (except  good bagels) exist; where you drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, forty miles to the Rock Café and sit down with movie stars and Hells Angels and get an incredible hamburger, “but it’s the people watching” they say and take us later that night to a fabulous restaurant for dinner where everything is delicious and the people are famous and recognizable. And hey! It’s California and we’re getting used to it. By that I mean we’re getting used to how easy it is, how beautiful everyone is, how happy they all are. We drive up the highway, all the songs the Beach Boys ever recorded on Sirius, full-out throttle and high volume, the top down on the Porsche, weaving and driving in and out among the cars, everyone going 80 miles an hour and I think I’m 18 again and anything is possible. Because it’s California.

But now they’re talking about this other place, mentioning it again and again and for a second year in a row, their state, California, from top to bottom is consumed in flames, and maybe it’s time to move they say but we were thinking—right before the fires broke out a second time—maybe Pasadena would be a really nice place for us to go in our golden years. A golden place in a golden state with family right there.

“You’ll love it” they say about this other place. “The barbecue. The hush puppies, grits, the cornbread and fried chicken! Nothing else like it and everyone has a good time.”

No turkey? No stuffing. No walks in brisk weather, leaves on the wet streets, dark at an early hour? No fires, no Macy’s NY Thanksgiving Parade? “No, forget all that” they say. “There’s music everywhere and dancing in the streets, and everyone having the time of their lives.”

Some of my friends have been there. “How long are you staying?” they ask. Just four days…”it might be one too many days…” they say. So what’s it like? “Well, maybe a little like Austin, or New Orleans (without the culture or history or atmosphere)”But sort of like new Orleans, people in the streets, drinking and dancing and all dressed up.” Fancy? “Oh no, just dressed up. Costumes, making up to be someone else.”

Ok. So it will be interesting. Someplace new. And probably warmer than here. Probably in the 60s and probably casual dress will do. So I’m going to go with no expectations and maybe be happily surprised to find that NASHVILLE is really a great place and I’ll meet one or two Democrats, walk around with a drink in my hand, run into people from all over the country who’ve come to be discovered or because they can’t get enough of the music that’s 24/7 and then I’m going to think it all over and maybe decide that the South is ok. Because if those two granddaughters I love are there, and their parents move there and you can hear great music all day and night if you go downtown, it will be an ok place to visit. But just maybe not to live.

Truth is I’d rather be going to Venice during Aqua Alta, or New Mexico and its crystalline air, or the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge to sit in front of the huge stone fireplace and its perpetual winter fire, but I have to be open to new things.

And bottom line, after this year of bad news, bad weather, bad things all around the world, walking down the street with a drink in your hand, music all around you as if the world is a happy and safe place, can’t be all bad. Not in these times. In these times maybe Nashville is exactly where you want to be.