Something happened, though. An opportunity popped up that wasn't Nashville. Instead, it was to do a year of volunteer service in Detroit, my hometown. I committed, and that year was the best year of my life. I was working at a high school with at risk kids, living with three total strangers who became three of my best friends. I loved it, but writing was still my passion. In my free periods at work, I was writing. I went through about 6 journals that year. I taught a creative writing class and blogged almost daily. I continued to keep the Nashville dream alive. As the year of service came to a close with no job lined up, I wondered if it was time to chase the dream. If maybe I should just go, and worry about the details later.
The problem with that, of course, was money. With very little savings and having just done a year of volunteering, I was struggling. There was no way I'd survive in Nashville with no job.
So, back to mom and dads house it was, where I spent my time applying for jobs and writing.
I got a job with a hospice. I took it, thinking I would do it for a year and then move to Nashville. No problems. Well, that didn't quite work out either. I stayed at hospice for nearly three years before accepting a new job with the American cancer Society.
For whatever reason, I never made it to Nashville. It wasn't in the cards. I didn't have the money nor the courage to drop everything and set up shop in Music City. As the years went by, I began to accept that maybe moving to Nashville wasn't actually a dream, but an escape plan. See, I was convinced that if I could just get to Nashville, I'd be happy. That everything would be perfect and I wouldn't feel so lonely anymore. That I would finally feel alive.
Instead, i found happiness in my own backyard. Literally. I can't imagine being happier than I am right now, and my life is certainly not as exciting as the one I imagined I would be living. But what I've learned is that happiness isn't defined by where you're living, or even what you DO for a living, but by how you live. I may not be living the dream I once had, but I am living the dream. I work for one of the greatest nonprofits in the country, I am in a relationship with the sweetest, most empathetic guy I know, and I live within minutes of my parents, sister, brother in law and nephew. Plus I live with my best friend. Now if not we could get my brother and sister in law a little closer, the dream would be complete.
Do I still dream of Nashville? Yes. But it's more nostalgic now, thinking back on all the nights I spent drinking coffee and writing lyrics or the thrill I got when I let a friend read something I wrote, so anxious to hear what they would think.
It's almost a past chapter in my life, though. My writings were, most often, fueled my heartbreak. I wrote best when I was in a deep hole of sadness. It's not a coincidence that I haven't been able to write lyrics like that in over a year. I'll let you figure out the logic on that.
My dream is no longer to move to Nashville and write songs. It's to take Tom to Nashville one day and show him why I fell in love with that city. And then come back home and keep living my dream.