A couple of weeks ago Josh, my mom, and I all piled in her car and headed to Tennessee. Our strategy was to spend one night in Gatlinburg, just for fun, then we would spend the rest of our time in Nashville. We went with a few purposes, but ultimately went at this point in time for the K-LOVE Fan Awards (Fan Awards blog post coming soon).
We arrived in Gatlinburg late Monday evening, but not before trolling through Dollywood to get there. The place struck me immediately as a deep south version of a cross between Vegas and the Wisconsin Dells – kitschy amusement and theme parks strewn with neon lights, themed music, and colorful imagery. It struck me eerily as the large yellow moon peeked just over the mountains in the background of the vacation destination chaos – we actually discussed if the moon was real or if it was a part of one of the venues.
When we arrived at our hotel we hit the sheets right after gobbling up the hospitality gift of warm cookies and slept solidly until around 10 the next morning. We lazily packed up then hit the streets for downtown Gatlinburg.
Downtown Gatlinburg was was an odd hodge podge of unlikely combinations; there were mostly plump white folk wandering the streets infested with major chains, while the unique, local joints took to the side streets with their handmade concoctions, free tastings, and live folk music. At first I couldn’t even see past the obnoxious corporate establishments but before long we wandered into quaint stores, ma and pa coffee shops, and various alcohol centers brewing their product out for the world to see and offering live folk music at their store front. The day was an utter joy and when we finally drank our fill we loaded the car again and left for Nashville.
In Nashville our goals were to explore the neighborhoods Josh frequents, meet the people he now calls “friend” within the music business, and scope out East Nashville for potential living quarters.
For day trips and meals we frequented the favorites spots Josh has stumbled on since signing with Fair Trade Services; we ate at delicious, local restaurants, drank coffee at specialty shops, moseyed around various neighborhoods, and explored towns. My favorite spots were CREMA (latte pictured below) and downtown Franklin.
I was most excited about meeting the folks Josh had been already telling me stories about for several months. At that point I had only had the privilege of meeting their label A&R rep and their head of management. While down there I got to get better acquainted with other label and management peeps, various band folk Josh has grown relationships with, and some awesome wives.
And lastly, our secondary reason for taking the week in Nashville, was to scope out the area in hopes of finding “home.” Josh got really busy, really quickly so before long it was just mom and I spending the days away together. On Josh’s first day of a packed schedule Mom and I ventured over to East Nashville to scope it out – this was the neighborhood recommended to us as our place to hunker down if we moved. My initial impression was underwhelming and as we wandered about the prospects didn’t improve. The town was cute and the restaurants were fun but I wasn’t impressed and, most importantly, I wasn’t “home.”
Home is the place my heart is called to. My first major decision in my life was to choose a college to attend. My mom and I toured schools one weekend and when we arrived on Judson University’s campus there was no mistaking my feeling of “home.” We didn’t bother visiting any more schools, I applied, and was accepted and enrolled only one month into my senior year of high school. My most major decision was to marry Josh. I remember hiding behind my childhood home waiting to make my grand entrance into my backyard wedding ceremony when I had my last conversation with God about marrying Josh. I was slightly overwhelmed at the magnitude of committing a lifetime to someone, even if they were my best friend, but the moment I thought of Josh and saw his face in my mind I was stuck by the truth that Josh was home for me. Lastly, and most pertinent to home hunting in Nashville, Josh and I have chosen each of our homes due to a sense of home. Josh and I have called four residences our home in our three-year marriage. Each one was right. I remember praying about each prospect before choosing to move or stay, and Nashville was absolutely no exception. Before even leaving for Nashville, Josh and I were struck by inklings to stay. When I arrived in Gatlinburg I felt a “no.” When I arrived in each exploratory neighborhood of Nashville I felt a “no.” And when I arrived in East Nashville I felt a “no.” So, long story short, Josh and I were told “no” about Nashville and “home” about Chicago.
And then came the K-LOVE Fan Awards… but more on that later 😉