Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"...Take me to another place - take me to another land..."

So I just spent 5 days in Tennessee -
It was wonderful. That country is breathtakingly beautiful. Its green green green green. Being there for 10 minutes I could totally see and understand why an entire people would betray their government and go to war to protect that land and the way of life they had.
I went to visit my friend who lives in Franklin. Its this little suburby town 15 minutes south of Nashville and it was just beautiful. Rolling green hills criss crossed with plantation and ranch fences. There were bodies of water here and there and streams running through people's very long and foliage ridden front drives. Every house had a beautiful front porch with hammocks swinging and a few bikes or Nerf guns strewn about. It was all lovely wonderful as long I was in the car. The second the car door opened -

BAM - the dreaded hell of oppressive and unrelenting 100 degree 80% humidity weather exacted its toll. It was everything I read about in Gone with the Wind but like 50x worse. I spent two summers in Virginia and I don't remember that kind of heat. We were always less than 10 miles from the river so I don't know if that has much to do with a tempering of the humidity monster but the second that car door opened I was floored. Like I have never had such an emotional reaction to a physical condition before. Every thing was more difficult and challenging and I felt powerless against it all. Its like instant claustrophobia in the wide open.

Lesson #1) visit Tennessee just not in August
My friend Lisa and I spend a good part of the trip just lolloping about her new house. Which was as beautiful as the landscape might I say. They don't have earthquakes there so they get to build with brick and that just makes me happy. They had a beautiful porch and high ceilings and all that lovely jazz. We just watched movies in her home theater and played with the dog and just generally goofed off. We did watch 300 more than once (and the special features). We even staged a pretty valiant effort to talk the counter boy at Blockbuster to give us the life size display of Gerard in all his Spartan glory. "Spartans! PREPARE FOR GLORY!" I still get goose bumps. Why don't I have men (like Capital "M" Men) like that in my general acquaintance? *sigh* I'll just continue to be in love with him I suppose. It was lovely. Its seems kind of silly to spend 4 hours on a plane to just watch movies with a friend but it seemed worth it to me. I didn't mind a bit.

Relearned Lesson #1) The best trips are to see people, not places or things.
On Saturday we went to downtown Nashville - (OH! and another horrible and unearthly quality that humidity has is that it doesn't cool down at night. How unfair is that?! You can't hide from it or cope with schedules, just air conditioners and sealed surroundings.) So we were traipsing up and down Broadway at night with a million people, and amongst a good amount of mismatched boots and hats, some bad gold necklaces, snarky tee-shirts, a few choice horse drawn carriages and embarrassingly drunk karaoke queens in 100 degree loveliness looking for Elvis bobble heads souvenirs. It was an experience.

Highlights include but are not limited to:
- the R2D2 mailbox on the corner of 2nd and Broadway

- the strawberry shortcake at BB Kings Blues House

- the YMCA table dance from our Hard Rock waiter

- the one karaoke bar that no only gave a mic to a city full of country hopefuls but pipped out the performance out onto the sidewalk. Yes - we personally beheld the 45 year old-smoked a pack a day since she was 15 - 2 shots of whiskey too many-Nashville blond in all her "Sweet Home Alabama!" glory. It was all Lisa and I could do to not double over in giggles on the street.

- the Cumberland River sculpture that I mistook for a roller coaster

- being called "sugar", "darlin", and "sweetie" by three different people in a 2 minute time span
- The Bell South tower that looks like Barac Dur from LOTR

- being so pressed by the crowds and music and humidity that my fight or flight instincts were triggered.

We got home, I took a long and cool shower, finished "Mara - Daughter of the Nile" (very good book may I add) and fell asleep.

Insights #1) Los Angeles is a city with a number of different mistresses; movies, music, modeling, television. But Nashville only has one - music. And that kind of single purpose in the universe lends itself to a lot of fascination and eccentricities and allots for levels of fanaticism that would be considered strange anywhere else. But because of that all of these people; karaoke queens, frisky army boys, people wearing Confederate flag belt buckles in the shape of the superman logo - they all not just color the landscape, but they belong there. And it is all strangely a beautiful thing. Kind of like Kabuki. It's pretty much alien but its SO its own thing and steeped so much in its own frequency that you just step back, marvel that it exists, and accept that there are may different forms of beautiful.
Other highlights/insights:
-don't sit too close to the screen when you go see "The Bourne Ultimatum" I was sea sick for about 45 min after
- Dave's Famous BBQ is worth the trip
- fewer things are more precious than a red headed two year old trying to tell you about the motor cycles from the circus in a Tennessee drawl and then having him call you "Miss Elizabeth"
- don't wear flip flops when shopping during tax free weekend

- "Don't Mess with Texas" was originally a slogan from a state wide anti-litter campaign

- Mascara is a super power and can get you free drinks anywhere

- KB toy store is always the best store in the mall, no matter what part of the country you're in

- Lisa's Mom's pumpkin cookies could be the missing factor in achieving world peace

- "Hilton" does not count in a scrabble game

- Redvines enhance every experience but don't have them for breakfast

All in all it was lovely and I fully intend to go back in the Fall. Yay for new places and new experiences and yay for friends to have with you on the journey.


Amanda said...

Liz, the reason why men like Gerard don't exist in your general acquaintance is that I don't think they exist in real life. I don't think that even the dreaminess that is Gerard is the Gerard we all hope that he is! Just a fantasy! I'm just glad that we have his picture to stare at on a regular basis. :)

Liz said...

Gerard really is a dream boat. How can you go wrong with a 6' 4" Scotsman who paid his way through law school by fronting a rock band and the only thing that kept him from taking the bar was being plucked out of a London coffee house by the movie industry? I'm sure he probably chews with his mouth open and has other like habits but - I think I can honestly say I'm willing to over look them. Only he could be Leonitus and yes - we will all stare. And I'm still pretty set on securing a display.

Liz W. said...

Liz, I love this post!

(Oh, and I know what you mean about humidity. A few years ago I went traveling and ended up visiting Mark Twain stuff on the Mississippi river. My hair was huge! I'm talking 7th grade afro frizzy--you remember, don't you Rachel?)

I love how you gave little snipits of events. I really got a sense of the place and would LOVE to go there.

I have a place in my heart for the south. My father and his family is all from the south. So, it's in my blood.

Mz. Liz said...

I do too. My great grandmother was from LA and my other grandma lived in NC. They both immigrated to those places and joined The Church there. I find it lovely that I was called to VA and my brother was called to NC. Its an amazing place, truly, and very much part of me.

Mz. Liz said...

And I love that you love it. That means a lot coming from you. Cause you're the definition of amazing - frankly speaking.