When we moved to Nashville after college, almost everyone at work tried to steer us toward the suburbs, or at least to aspire to them. They knew, for what we were making at the time, with student loans and old cars in need of constant repair, that we couldn't afford it. But one of Stephen's coworkers, a graphic designer whose husband taught high school, lived in East Nashville and hoped we would someday too.
When Stephen took his next job at a digital agency near downtown, we made the move. At the time it was affordable, though we weren't yet brave enough to buy, which we still kick ourselves about sometimes. A friend tipped us off to some condos that had been pulled off the market and were being rented out (this was late 2009, early 2010 after all). We lived there for six years in 600 square feet before buying this house.
When we bought this house, it was on a bus line. Stephen had season tickets to see the Preds and regularly stayed out late with friends. I had a full after-work wellness routine: two different types of yoga classes, acupuncture, running with a group three times a week, personal training, all of which I hurried back into town from work in Brentwood for. I had an eyebrow lady and a specific massage therapist I tried to see quarterly, both in Berry Hill. I recognized myself in the "self-care coven" bit in this Jami Attenberg Curbed piece, even after getting a dog and taking a job five miles from home.
Friends were already moving away when they announced our bus route was going to be eliminated, then I learned I was pregnant, and covid came the next year. My forties don't look much like my thirties, and I feel an intense need to have a better sense of what fifty will look like. I recognize myself in that part of the Attenberg piece too.
My hair reeks of wood smoke right now. Today we drove out to the other side of Mt. Juliet to a cookout with a bunch of Stephen's fraternity brothers as part of an informal alumni weekend of activities. I followed my preschooler around the backyard, into the house, making sure her shoes didn't touch the guy's couch and that her pull-up didn't leak on it either. Most of that involved passing a smoking Big Green Egg frequently. Three of the guys live in the same subdivision; wives and kids came and went.
A school-aged girl in pajamas and a pink helmet rode by on a pink four wheeler. We usually only see babies in strollers go by our house.
The house across the street from the cookout was for sale, but it had no backyard. It is still wild to me that our 70-year-old modest ranch is valued nearly the same as those twice-as-large, all-brick new construction homes.
Today was a cool, overcast day, but there were no trees there and every year a hotter summer shows up.
Things are good here for us in Nashville. We still know people here and have dear friends here. I love our daycare. We have a great dentist and pediatrician and other vital service providers, most of whom probably wouldn't appreciate being called any kind of "coven," here. (We also have a few who very much would appreciate it.) When I realized, last month while letting the dog in, that the ash tree in our backyard was lost to emerald ash borer, I could call a college friend's husband and get it taken care of. But I also didn't move here to live surrounded by million-dollar HPRs that flew up overnight, with Teslas parked out front. I believe in public schools, and not just if you lottery into the right magnet for fifth grade or your parents can pick you up from the high school that aligns with your interests at 3 p.m. Many of the people who are moving here are seeking a political climate that doesn't currently exist in Davidson County, but if enough of them keep coming it will.
The preschooler was starting to toddle around the backyard like someone overserved her, so we decided to go home. She was mad about it.
"I don't want to leave Daddy's friend's house, I want to STAY," she yelled. I understood.
It was a long drive back. She passed out almost instantly in the carseat so I made it longer, taking Lebanon Road instead of the interstate, and Briley Parkway instead of going through downtown, and further down Gallatin Road than necessary. We passed the graphic designer's brother-in-law's house at a four-way stop a block from the house where she still lives. Last fall we walked the then-toddler down that street in her unicorn costume for trick-or-treating.
There is something precious about having that kind of long knowledge of a place and its people. We are running out of time to do it again.