Black and Slightly Bourgoisie in Nashville (A journal entry)
January 5, 2016
My first trip of 2016 was in celebration of my mother’s landmark birthday. To give you a little background, my mother and I have always had a very… unique relationship. This relationship has resulted in decades of us trying to figure out how to get along. She’s a Capricorn and I’m a Cancer which in short means that we are one another’s opposite on most things yet we are both fascinated by strange/abnormal things. This is why a semi-short notice trip to both the symbolic and literal half-way point was both appropriate for our personalities and necessary.
I thought that I wanted to share the details of this trip in chronological order but that’s the blogging equivalent of asking you to watch slides. I’d rather give you the stories and my observations grouped together by relevant categories. Enjoy!
So we both had a four hour trip ahead of us and we coordinated leaving our homes at the same time; her from Atlanta, me from Cincinnati. At first I thought that my NASCAR like driving skills were beating the satellites and causing my Google Maps to lose entire pieces of highway yet keep perfect time on my estimated arrival. Being a self-proclaimed expert navigator from numerous trips around the country in the era of the AAA TripTik, I decided to ignore the woman’s voice completely and follow the silent map thumbing my way through the transitions and marking my position on the highway. My mother and her trusting heart however listened intently to the words coming from her Garmin and it led her all the way… to someone’s house.
When she told me that I laughed so hard, both on the phone and in her face every time she brought it up. It was the funniest thing in the world and I just couldn’t figure out how in the world she could trust turning into a sub-division to get to the Omni Hotel. I laughed even harder when on our way from Opryland the little lady in my phone lead me to Terminal A of the Nashville Airport. Apparently Omni Hotel is a part-time CIA safe house and any attempts to navigate directly will be thwarted at all costs. My mom gets nervous when I laugh and drive, but there was no way that I was going to let myself off the hook for the same thing she did. It was funny as hell, and I had to go for it. Full on cackle.
Nashville= (Atlanta + Country Music) – Bourgeois Black People
When I walked my brown and kinky nearly 6ft tall self into a lobby full of not even “other” brown people I braced myself for the interactions that are to be expected. I felt like a Wesen in a room full of Grimms. My negroidian danger meter was at High Alert Orange. Yet I tucked away my apprehension in my best toothy smile and got the key to wait on Mom.
Once she finally made it from visiting those people that the GPS sent her to we hit the town in search of sustenance. We got snubbed at the Mellow Mushroom but by the lack of parking and the line that formed at the door, they were probably just horribly managed, because they weren’t busy.
When in doubt, eat at home… Panera Bread. My first employer never lets me down, and wouldn’t you know it we found some black people. The homecoming was topped with the Green Tea and the Lemonade being included at the beverage bar instead of tucked behind the counter.
Free Refills on a Green Arnold? Can we eat here again tomorrow?
By the end of the first evening we had only seen one other black person that was not in a uniform but my frantic Google search of “What do black people do in Nashville?” assured me that there was a happy hour that night with plenty of “us”…(read this part slowly) with a free soul food buffet, and 3 for 1 drinks, and no cover. Once again I found myself checking the negroidian danger meter as darkness fell and that sweet deal went from sounding like a great idea to an elaborate trap. That much liquor with zero discretion at the door? No thanks this time. I was able to get confirmation from my cheer sister from the way back that 5-8pm is the window of safety, so if we go to Nashville again, we’re prepared.
Saturday was jam packed with all of the sight-seeing that a person can stand. We shopped at Greenhills and The Gulch, drove down Broadway (way too many people to actually try and hang), drank from the I Love Juice Bar, walked through the Parthenon and ate in the Opryland area.
As the day progressed and we got out of the immediate downtown area the diversity increased. However, we noticed that all of the tourist places (excluding The Parthenon and Opryland) felt like Atlanta. The Gulch= Atlantic Station, Broadway= Peters Street, Vanderbilt University Area= Emory University Area. It’s as if this is what happened to everyone that used to live in Gwinnett County, GA… White-lanta. Feel free to use that one!
Girl WHET? Moments-
Moment 1. Hungry and tired we stand in the lobby of the hotel waiting for valet to bring my car up after I had called from upstairs. Along comes the third black person that we saw, not in uniform, carrying a pizza. We’re both clocking her hoping we can get a chance to ask her where that pizza is from or catch a name on the box. To our luck she’s a delivery driver and she’s got to come past us again. The minute she crosses the door in the breezeway I blurt out “Hey, where’s that pizza from?” since we see that she’s at work. A long pause filled with a teeth click, an umm and circular hand gestures finally ends with her saying “It’s this place called Dolce Vita or something.” I meter my facial expression, I’m still looking normal and I reply “Oh ok, thanks.” She steps out the door and me and Mom look at eachother and simultaneously say “Whaaat?” then start laughing. How the hell don’t you know where you work? The lady came back with a menu and we decided to fill in her back story by saying she was running a delivery service contracted out. We have no clue, but we had to fix her up, she was our #3 and that was crazy. (Side note: That pizza is life giving)
Moment 2.Waiting in the complimentary valet line at the mall, we notice that the line seems to be at a halt. We thought that we saw our #4 but turns out he was parking cars and didn’t have his whole uniform on yet. The line suddenly starts going around one particular car. By the time it’s my turn to go around the car in my approach to the valet stand a woman comes walking out of the Starbucks, coffee in hand, completely unbothered. Yes that heffa went and got her coffee and said to hell with this line, I’m getting my Oprah Chai. Mom and I started cracking up once we gathered that whole scenario. Everybody in that line was so mad at her, and she didn’t give a single care.
Moment 3.”Ooh let’s order Room Service.” -Me
“Yeah, hand me that menu… oh yeah, they’ve got Shrimp & Gri- $25!” -Mom
Moment 4. We never did figure out why there was a microwave in the hallway of the hotel. First it was holding some dishes, and then it was all by itself.
Moment 5. Dog tag chain= $0.15 Old file cabinet key=$0.45 … engraved key on a dog tag chain= $40.00. Clearly we need to get on board with trying to sell cheap stuff at high prices to Talyor Swift and all her celebrity friends. I had to talk to my mother’s inner Vine Street in a calm and soothing voice to keep her from hollering “hail-naw”out loud in those people’s fine establishment… I was also preaching to myself.
Live Like Old People-
We talked a lot on this trip in the car rides and one of the stand-out points of the trip is to “live like old people”. This means to make decisions like you’re living in your last 10-15. The Capricorn/Cancer conversation pattern can go pretty dark but we were so in tuned that nobody ended up crying or angry. We just agreed that life is too short to not do things that you really feel like doing. This manifested itself when the trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame, connected to our hotel, turned into the day of riding all around the city.
My mom has a habit of abrupt awakenings between 3-4am. She only did that once this trip and when she woke up she had some words of wisdom after her solo half-sleep rendition of “Happy Birthday to Me”. “If God keeps waking you up every day then you’ve got something else to do. If you don’t wake up, then you’ve done everything that was in your plan” to that I added “hopefully”.
This trip had zero agenda. One of the Directors at my job travels to Nashville all the time and she gave me a document with all of the potential things to do and see while there. That helped us tremendously in making impromptu decisions, and let us have some “Retirement Practice” (a phrase stolen from one of my co-workers). Old people only do exactly what they want, and nothing else. #Lifegoals
This trip had lots of firsts, in that we’ve never done anything like this before in my life. Every trip that we’ve ever taken has been tied to some mandatory activity. Yes even that time we went to Disney World when I was a kid, I was in a karate tournament. We have spent lots of time traveling together, but no time actually vacationing and I am super grateful to have had the opportunity to see another side of my mom, as well as let her get to know more about me.
My mom and I used to get into it so bad when I was a teenager that my Granny would say, “Y’all better stop, one day the Lord is going to make it to where you can’t see eachother again, and this is all you’ll have to remember.” Well now we can look back and think “Remember that trip to Nashville?”