When one of my best friends from college, Jess, went with her dream and moved to Nashville, we were all pretty proud of her. There’s a group of us that hope to someday live in Nashville, Jess was just the first one to take a risk! She lives in between downtown Nashville and Franklin- in a lovely apartment off of Franklin Pike road.
In November, Sam and I started picking weekends to go visit Jess. We decided to knock two birds with one stone and go the weekend of the marathon! So, since November, I have been proudly saving my money for this trip. I only make $100 a month doing this year of volunteer service, so things were tight. I gave up going out to eat and going to the movies, and only purchased things when absolutely necessary. I was still counting pennies and budgeting up until the very moment I left for Nashville. I even turned in my piggy bank- and got $65 back! Anyways, you want to know about the trip.
I was running around like a mad woman at school on Thursday getting ready to leave. As I was walking out the door, a group of students stopped me and begged me to stay. Even though I told them I was only going to be gone a couple of days, they all know I love Nashville, and were concerned I wasn’t coming back…and, since I am in charge of feeding the kids breakfast and lunch every day, one girl’s parting words to me were “WAIT! Who’s going to feed us???”. I left school and ran home to change and grab my last minute things. My neighbor showed up with a package in her hand, and in it was…MELINDA'S BOOK! EEE! I was so ecstatic I wanted to sit down and read it right then…but I already had a late start, so I stuffed it in my purse and was on my way. To get to Sam’s, I have to drive through Kalamazoo…my old college town. I have to say, for as much as I hate college, I found myself a little emotional. I don’t think it’s because I miss it, but it’s because Kalamazoo represents so much. The changes and the growth that I have made, the bad decisions I’ve made, friendships come and gone, boyfriends, sorority, jobs, etc. Those four years were such a rollercoaster and just being back in that town brought on all kinds of anxiety? I drove by my sorority house to find that a frat had moved in, which also made me sad. Goodbye, Delta Gamma.
Anyways…enough nostalgia. I made it to Sam’s, and after a long day of work and driving was pretty tired. We sat and watched some old season 7 episodes of Idol, chatted, and got everything ready to leave. By 10:30, we were both out cold. We planned on leaving by 6 am, but ended up on the road a little closer to 6:30. The trip down there FLEW by. We made it to Nashville by 12:30 their time, which was pretty much perfect. I really enjoyed our trip- we had a little bit of rain, but for the most part it was the easiest trip we’ve ever had. No car problems, no traffic, and, best of all, NO GETTING LOST! We pulled into Jess’ excited and ready to take on Nashville.
Jess gave us a tour of her apartment and then took us down the road to a new local bbq place. I’m not even a big fan of bbq, but my pulled pork sandwich was delicious! We sat out on the patio and caught up for a while, learned all about Jess’ life in Nashville and her goals. By this point, Sam and I were ready to see Nashville, so Jess took us on a driving tour. We saw Martina McBride’s house, Green Hills, Belmont, etc. I think our only comments the entire tour were “it’s so beautiful here” and “when we move here…” and “…is that a tour bus?” I had fallen in love with Nashville all over again within 10 minutes of our tour! By the time we were finished driving around, we had to get back to take showers and get ready to see the backups!
We met Holly, Des, Maria, Lexi and her family at Cantina Laredo. You may recognize it as “the place Melinda gets her apple pie she is always tweeting about”. There is even a picture of it in her book! The restaurant was delicious. Sam and I were big fans of the guacamole, which they made right in front of us at the table! MMM. I had an avocado enchilada. De-lic-ous. It was so good to see everyone and catch up! We talked about Idol a little bit, shared a few stories, and just enjoyed each other’s company. (And yes, Ape, Maria did perform surgery on her food!). Also, I’m sure you are all already aware of this, but Lexi is the most mature 16 year old you will ever come in contact with. She handles every situation with grace, and she’s such a sweetheart!
Speaking of sweet
…When it came time for desert, I just had to order apple pie. You guys, Melinda was not kidding. It was incredible apple pie topped with cinnamon ice cream and Carmel sauce. I forced Jess and Sam to eat a few bites of mine, and when I couldn’t eat anymore, I handed my plate on over to Lexi.
After dinner we said our goodbyes and parted ways. Jess continued our driving tour by showing us music row, which was probably a bad idea since Sam and I both practically leaped out of the moving car. It was so cool seeing all the record labels and studios! We saw a guy carrying a guitar and I just shouted “FOLLOW HIM!” We also saw Vanderbilt’s campus, and my dream place of employment, the Vanderbilt Children’s hospital. At one point Jess said “I think that’s a frat house or something…” and as we turned the corner, there was a huge group of college girls dancing on a beer pong table. I think her assumption was correct.
We got back to Jess and although we were tired from traveling and sightseeing, we decided to go out to downtown Nashville. Jess and her roommate took us to their favorite Irish pub downtown. Walking to the pub, though, we passed all the country bars. They were PACKED full and live music was coming from every single one! We made it to our destination and sat on the patio of Bailey’s Irish Pub.
We had a few drinks; chatted, and headed home around 11- we were TIRED! I think we all fell asleep as soon as we walked in. Woke up around 7 and got ready to go cheer!
I was really nervous about finding the cheering spot, because all I could remember was the 08 marathon when the “cool car” was lost and lost! This year, though, I had Jess, who dropped me off in the perfect spot with absolutely no trouble! I found Holly and Lexi’s family and joined them in cheering on the runners.
You know, there is something so special about supporting people who are doing something you know is very difficult. Each person that passed us and smiled, let out a WOOO or said “thank you” just touched my heart, because I know that they have a story, and they are running this marathon for a reason. I also have to say that Holly is the BEST cheering companion ever! She really kept me motivated and energized- even through the icky weather. I really don’t think I could have been as cheerful without her. ..and you know, all the cute boys walking by helped too. There was a band right next to our cheering spot who were singing some of my favorite songs! I nearly screamed when they sang “Run To You” by Lady Antebellum.
Lexi came running toward us, and I was so happy to be there to give her a big hug. I love that sweet girl, and her determination and dedication has truly inspired me. She didn’t stop for long, but enough to give hugs and snap a few pictures. After Lexi came by the skies started getting a little darker, but that didn’t stop Holly and I! We screamed for everyone that went by. Even though I didn’t have the banana this year, it was still fun.
Sam and Jess came back JUST IN TIME for Maria and Des. Maria came walking up to us and I practically jumped on her. She waited for Des, who had gone to the bathroom, and as Des came up to us she immediately sat on the curb- the weather was making her hands and feet swell up :( We took a few pictures of them and encouraged them before they were off for the 2nd half.
Jess, Sam, and I headed to the car, and as soon as we did, the storm started. We all crawled onto different couches in Jess’ apartment and took naps.
We woke up around 12:30 and decided to get ready and “screw that rain right back”. We went downtown and walked the main strip to see all the shops…and by the way, not ONLY are the bars packed at night, but also in the middle of the afternoon! How awesome. Downtown was fun…we took lots of touristy pictures.
AND…” DANNY GOKEY BABIES” has become my new go to frustration phrase when it’s not appropriate to cuss, so I had been saying it a lot lately..And we ran into his poster on the streets!
After downtown, I asked Jess to take us to the Grand Ole Opry. I’ve always wanted to see it…it’s gorgeous!
Then, Jess had really wanted to go to the Franklin festival…so we made our way to Franklin…only to find that the festival had been closed due to the rain. I was glad to see downtown Franklin though, it’s such a cute area! Nashville is just full of surprises. From downtown to the outskirts, there’s so much cool stuff! As we were walking, I looked to my right and see a collage of pictures in the window of a cupcake store. I was all “hey, that girl looks like Jordin!” so I walk closer…and next to Jordin is Melinda! ::laugh:: It was the cupcakes they used for the Dove awards.
By this point, the weather was very…iffy. It would be sunny one minute and pouring the next…so we decided to grab dinner and then head home for the night. Well, as we’re driving, we see this HUGE bridge coming up ahead…
So we start having a conversation about how big it is and how it looks like it’s not even made for cars. Jess says “Yeah, I think it’s famous or something…hey, why is my GPS taking us up this huge hill?” we laugh and keep talking about how the GPS is taking us to the mountains…when suddenly, we see the bridge. “Um..we’re going on the bridge”. This is what happened next: