Nashville: I pull up on my motorcycle outside my cousin's house in her nice little suburb, and am immediately reminded of the fact that I have six to ten little cousins, who are running around the yard. This is my dad's side of the family; my dad was one of eight children and the family is large and boisterous. I am enthusiastically greeted by my cousin, her husband, her sister, both her parents, her two little children, four of her brother's children, and a smattering of neighborhood children thrown in for good measure. This is to be the tone of the next 3 days.
Once the squadron has helped me unload my stuff and has flanked me into the house, I'm plied with alcohol and asked a million questions. I am quickly reminded that this is the type of family where everyone is constantly talking at the same time: leaving no idea or sentence unfinished, happily plowing through stories while two or three coinciding stories are taking place simultaneously.
My ride from New Orleans to Nashville was the best strip of riding so far: most of it took place on the Natchez Trace Parkway, a stunningly beautiful road that is mostly forested and rarely has cars on it. There are more motorcycles here than cars; everyone is sporting a t-shirt or a cutoff and it inspires me to do the same. In a very short amount of time my arms become an angry red color.
My taste of Nashville included some driving around the city seeing lots of buildings; I'm realizing for the first time since I left San Francisco a month ago, that I'm getting tired of seeing "sights". All I really want to do is hang out with my cousins and family. I find myself bizarelly off-balance when it comes to acting in front of my little cousins (mostly 6-10 years old)- trying to be myself, while maintaining an aura of cool maturity, all while significantly toning down my habitually foul mouth. It's amazing how fun kids are once you drop the act, and just be genuine and treat them like they're on the same level as you are. I quickly realized how much smarter six year olds are than I thought they'd be. After all, it's been 17 years since i was six…I can't even remember what thats like.
I put on a little piano-rap concert, spurred on by the little guys- they were the most attentive audience I've ever had. I've never felt so cool as I did with my little six-year-old cousin Adam standing at my elbow as I was playing the piano, just staring at me for 3 minutes without moving.
The next night we had dinner at a place called Puckett's, where there was some great live country music, beers served in jars, and my entree was called The Rusty Bucket, consisting of an actual metal pail overflowing with french fries, shrimp, oysters, catfish, and hush puppies. A Pollock-esque painting on the wall caught my eye; on closer inspection I found that it was a large jigsaw puzzle and the image was made entirely of fishing lures. Thank you Nashville.
thank you Ruth, Zach, Libby, Maggie, Matt, Chris, Brooke, Andrew, David, John, Adam, Eleanor, and Sam. It's been real.