My family and I have lived in Nashville for over a year and a half. In that time, we have managed to explore the city and even make a few friends along the way. We found the best pizza place . . . practically ever. We discovered some really cool places to hang out (like the Adventure Science Center and the Nashville Zoo), and we frequent them as often as we can. I found a great comic store that Liam and I like to visit on occasion, and the Dave & Buster’s that’s up here has proven to be a blast every time we’ve stopped in.
We’re starting to learn our way around. The GPS is still a necessity, but it’s not a complete and total wash if I leave it at home. Nashville is a maze of highways and traffic, but it’s one that I feel I am beginning to learn to navigate.
All of that . . . and this place still isn’t home.
This weekend, we spent some time in Chattanooga. We were in town for a birthday party, and we managed to carve out some time that morning to see some friends, too. That night, I made the mistake of driving around downtown on my way back to my parents’ house to sleep. It could be said that the mistake was in attempting to navigate downtown Chattanooga during the notoriously chaotic Riverbend Festival currently taking place. But that wasn’t it at all. The roads weren’t difficult—the feelings were.
As I drove around, seeing the familiar sights and weaving through the familiar streets, I was hit with an overwhelming wave of feeling: This is home. This is where we belong. This is where life makes sense.
This is My City.
When I talk about going home, I talk about coming here. Even when we’re in Nashville, the Reader and I both know that when we say the word “home,” we’re speaking of the next time we visit Chattanooga. No other place has ever felt like it, and I highly doubt any other place will.
When we left, it was due to necessity. We were in a tough position financially, and I was offered a job that would basically save us. And that’s what I keep telling myself: We didn’t have a choice. I was given an opportunity to advance my career as a writer, learn some new (and potentially valuable) skills, and get a pretty hefty pay increase at the same time. All I had to do was pack up my family and move to Nashville. I would have been an idiot to turn it down.
I still sometimes wonder if I should have.
Nashville is not home. It just isn’t. Many people have told me to give it a chance—that it has a lot of the qualities we’re looking for in a place to raise our family, and that it could be home if we wanted it to be.
And they’re half right.
It does have a lot of the qualities we’re looking for in a place to raise our family. It has a rich cultural heritage, and there is always something going on in some part of the city. Aside from the places I mentioned earlier, there is also the library system, which is one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege of using. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, and I’m sure we haven’t even begun to unearth all the possibilities that Nashville has to offer us.
But, no matter how much we might want it to be, Nashville will never be home. The most it will ever be is a way station—that place we stopped one time when we needed a helping hand. Funny thing is, it hasn’t been nearly as helpful as it was supposed to be. Despite having a substantially higher salary, things have never been harder for us financially than they are right now. With the bright lights and the big city came a big price tag. When you add the fact that we have never felt more alone and isolated than we do right now, we have come to one inescapable (and overwhelmingly relieving) conclusion:
I think it’s about time we came home.