Friday, May 21, 2010

Nashville rising

I continue to have to pinch myself--I have a job in which I travel. I would never have chosen a traveling job, but being told "Go forth and Speak" I do so. And I am always grateful for the opportunity once I get there.

I don't know what I expected for Nashville. Something bigger. Something smaller. I surely did not expect the beautiful balance between big and small. Tall buildings but quiet street traffic. I did not expect the intimate bustle during the day (music, music, music, all day) or the literal teeming hordes of people toward midnight (I fled back to the hotel when the sea of humanity began rolling down the hill).

I wandered Broadway alone twice and with friends once, and wish I'd had more time to explore (more photos here.) On these three day trips you really only get a glimpse of a city, and certainly don't learn much about its soul.

Nashville is of course recovering from their flood. Were it not for the huge disaster response teams pumping water out and air in, and the smell of mold when you descended into the once-flooded areas, you would never know. The mud, sticks, debris that must have been thrown into the streets, are gone.

The damage remained, of course. Waterlogged belongings lined the lower streets. Dumpsters collected ruined drywall and items that building owners probably wished they'd removed from cellars years ago. Nonetheless, businesses were opening the moment they could catch their breath.

Flood response companies lined the streets. I'm sure there are outlying areas that are utterly mud-stricken. But in Nashville, I got the feeling that every living human had gone out with a broom and a plastic bag, and said "Begone filth!" as soon as the water receded.

I was impressed that every intersection had audible crosswalks, but it wasn't until I took a doubletake at this sign that I realized that might be because The Seeing Eye had begun in Nashville.

I would go back. I WILL go back. I love music. More than recorded music, I love live music. And more than professional live music, I love up-and-coming living music, because the talent is incredible. Our society lauds the vocalist, but I love strings in any form. As soon as I stepped downtown, the open windows and door spilled music. I'd like to find someone with similiar likes, and go back.

I pressed my nose against the window of a guitar/mandolin shop while I was downtown. It was closed. I came by the next day, before leaving for my plane. I picked up a two-point and looked at the price tag before I touched the strings. $7000? I picked up the next one. $7000. How many $7000 instruments could there be in one store? Given that t-shirts in the store across the street were $80, I stopped flipping price tags, figuring that the prices were for dickering. I wandered over to the straps. Maybe I could bring home a mandolin strap from Nashville? Nah...$50 for what a local craftman in Ithaca would sell for $30. So I came home with a chord chart--yes, just a chord chart, for $5.95. But to be in the presence of that many I wish I'd taken a photo.

And then there are the hotel rooms. When I was "on my own" and went to animal welfare conferences, I saved up all year for the single conference I could afford to attend. And then I looked for campgrounds because I could never afford the conference hotels. Frankly, I froze my butt off one or two years, when my chosen conference was in April or October. I sometimes threw a futon in the back of my truck (when they were new) and slept in the parking lot.

Now I get to stay in hotel rooms. Every time I open a hotel room door, I feel like I'm in a fairy land because I'm warm and I won't have to brew my coffee over a fire. And you know what? The cheaper the hotel, the better the wireless connection (really!)

In Nashville, post flood, you took any room you could find, and the hotels (at least ours) did NOT gouge and the price was surprisingly reasonable.

If you have a great decorator, you can take a room that you can nearly touch wall to wall with your outstretched arms, and make it look pretty darned nice.

The wireless was awful. But the room and the view was gorgeous:

I'll go back.


c and g said...

we have musician friends in nashville. let us know next time you're headed that way. they have mandolins.....

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

Glad you enjoyed your stay. I grew up in Nashville, and I love my hometown. Out of town guests that come visit are always pleasantly surprised when they get here and realize that Nashville is so much more than just country music. Thanks for the positive review of our city!