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"Tennessee"

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We're All A Bunch of Snowflakes

I wish I could explain how different life in a small Southern town really is. I’ll admit it— while in Tennessee I worried and stressed too much. I thought my purpose there was to start my life and find a job in Nashville. Really, looking back on those four months, I realize they were simply a gift. It was a time to reflect, relax and enjoy the little things in life; a time to slow down; a change of pace; new scenery and new experiences. I was a city girl stuck in a small town, so it’s strange to think I miss it. I miss walking the dogs down little streets with pretty houses and taking the shortcuts through backyard alleyways. I miss the tiny mop dog with the funny bark who would run to the street in attempt to scare us away. I miss escaping on roads that brought you back to a different time. Below the trees and in the shadowed streets existed a different world. Looking up at the sky, I could actually see the stars. Silly adventures like hunting for a gravesite due to mother’s obsession with Ancestry dot com. An evening could be spent on a fallen tree trunk in the middle of the park, waiting for deer to pass.

I was consistently surprised at how people just let things go-- houses abandoned, barns caved in, cars covered in grass. The corner store had catfish for lunch on Fridays. The hunting section in Wal-Mart was so large that it included a whole section of pink women’s camouflaged clothing. We attended every holiday parade where I stood in the middle of the square, feeling nearly like a Gilmore girl. In the old pharmacy sits a little table in the back of the store where four old men sit and drink their 10 cent coffee. A third of the store is an ice cream parlor, serving the only real banana split I’ve ever consumed. On days where there was nothing to do, I stood in the cold outside Walgreens, waiting in line to purchase a Redbox DVD. Why they put the machine outside, and not inside, is beyond me.

Days prior to December were spent waiting for Dominic to get out of kindergarten school. Tiffany and I made few random trips to Franklin or Nashville. We walked down Music Row, stopping in cowboy boot shops. We enjoyed Caramel Apple Spices from Starbucks and extravagant cupcakes from the small stand inside the mall. Twice we listened to a free concert at the park. An indie Spanish-speaking band was our fave. In October we carved pumpkins. Dominic dressed as the Dark Knight— complete with rad Converse-- on Halloween. We walked on trails in the park, discovering hidden stairs. We swung on the swing set at the playground. Pictures were snapped as Dominic ran across the creek at Mt. Zion. We walked across the swinging bridge and skipped rocks along the water. In winter I danced in the snow. I'm still in awe at the perfect design of snowflakes. Look close, you can see it. No one the same, but each wonderfully crafted. I admired the trees as they changed from green to orange, yellow, red to nothing but bare limbs.

It all ended as quickly as it began.

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10 Things I’ve Learned Since I Moved To The South



1. Eating can become a hobby. Call it a hunch, but I’m willing to bet there will be some sort of eating contest at the upcoming state fair. This is the land where everything is fried and BBQ has its own special place on the food pyramid. So it’s easy to understand why Tennessee is the second fattest state in the nation (tied with Alabama), where 31.6 percent of the adults are obese. In the small town where I currently reside, it appears the only thing more popular than Walmart is the dozen or so fast food restaurants that sit off the main highway. & Many of the food items found at Wally World look as if they belong in a Costco or Sam’s Club because of their economy-like size. Let's just say, I miss Fresh & Easy and I’ll stick to having my food grilled, not fried.

2. I don’t need a microwave, television or a Starbucks. More than half our (parents & I) belongings are still in boxes. I forget what we own. I’m sure what remains packed away consists of things worth keeping. At the same time, I am sure they are things that I don’t necessarily need. What I do need is internet, my camera and a washer. Which I thankfully, finally have. We also now have a fridge, after using a cooler for a week. Here’s what I have unpacked: About a fifth of my clothes, two books, camera, laptop and DVDs. Basically I feel as if I’m living at a hotel and not, at least officially, at a home. Here’s to adjusting to a minimalist lifestyle and being content with my circumstances because Lord knows that I know things could always be much, much worse.

3. Auctions are more rad than yard sales. I woke up on Saturday and drove six streets over to a house with a lawn covered in knick knacks, furniture and antiques. Each person received a paper with a number. There was a man with a microphone speaking so fast that he reminded me of a cartoon character. “Five, ten, ten, ten, anyone at fifteen, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty, twenty, twenty, sold to number [whatever].” People would nod their heads to stay in the bidding war. We walked away with several treasures, despite mother getting outbid on a beautiful wingback chair, piano stool and two kitchen stools. I snagged an antique Remington typewriter for five bucks. I swear it weighs about sixty pounds. Score! One lady said she had paid over 100 dollars for one just a week prior. We also snagged a box that contained an old film projector and several old cameras, including one of the original Polaroids. Pretty nifty in my opinion. We also left with a box of dishes, an old suitcase and vintage pans perfect for baking. It’s decided-- we’re going to another auction this Saturday.

4. Sweet tea is the best thing since sliced bread. & if I’m not careful, drinking this sugary goodness just might become a hobby as well.

5. Amish people, well here’s what I know: If you want anything well-built, as in furniture or hardwood floors, they are your go-to-peeps. If you’re looking for fresh produce, skip the grocery store and head a few miles down the road to their little shop. They eat at McDonalds, shop at Walmart and ride horse drawn buggys wherever they go. They’re kind. For instance, they get out of your way if you’re driving behind them. No car, or bicycle, or person ever did that in Arizona. They don’t use electricity or tractors-- only the old stuff. If you wave to them, they wave back. Oh & they're always packing... igloo coolers that is.

6. Sexism and racism are very much alive. You might be thinking, “No duh.” & I should clarify that it’s merely more visible here. Even those who claim they are not racist still unknowingly categorize whites, blacks and Mexicans into racial categories. The best example of racism and sexism I can give you is this: I know someone who has said that they would think it okay for their son to date a black woman, but would disown their daughter if she dated a black man. Many people here agree with such viewpoints. I am certainly not one of them. My strongest dislike on the planet is racism. & Several comments I’ve made over the past few years have left some asking, “Are you a feminist?” To that I say, "Yeah, a little bit."

7. I’m proud of where I came from. I would choose the Cardinals over the Titans any day. I like that I don’t have an accent, even if it does mean receiving odd glances from strangers. I like wearing Vans instead of Crocs, and blouses instead of pink camo. I like being a city girl. I like that Mesa, Arizona will always be my hometown.

8. Life in the slow lane is not my cup of tea. Right now my life is equivalent to the 35 mph speed limit through town. I’d rather be going 60.

9. “No matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.” Paul in Breakfast at Tiffanys said it best. This has always been one of my favorite quotes. & I keep learning over and over again that it’s true. I still must. find. a job. NOW. So I can be out on my own. FINALLY. & It’s no easier a task than it was back in Arizona. & The ones I love are facing a reality that is no easier 1600 miles across the country. At the end of the day, the one thing you always have to deal with is YOU.

10. The South, simply put, plays by its own rules. It’s acceptable to drive in the middle of the street if you’re on roads outside of town. It’s acceptable to shoot someone for coming onto your piece of land, which is why driving across all creation looking for property to buy can be dangerous. People do not receive equal punishment under the law because it all depends on who you know or who you’re father is. Dogs roam freely. If you dare to drive past their house, you sometimes get chased for half a mile. I’ve also heard rumor that you only get busted for pot if you’re not the main supplier to the statewide officials. Marvelous.

♫ Tune: In The Middle by Rodney Atkins

More Flickr pictures:
One of my favorite spots in Franklin, TN time rushing by

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