"Welcome to Nashville" is a weekly column by Jennifer Funt as she captures her honest, and often rocky, adventures as a transplant to Nashville.In school, some people treat writing as a way to move to the next grade level and others treat it as the first time they ever learned to breathe. I'm in the latter group. Illustration by Meagan Rhodes
I've always understood the sentiment "There is no such thing as a stupid question." But it is a lie. It is a universal lie we tell children and people we have crushes on so we can get them to ask us what they want to ask and not feel completely rejected or dumb.
There are stupid questions.
There are stupid answers.
My least and maybe most favorite stupid question is "You got a degree in English?" Well, yeah, that's what I JUST told you.
The follow-up: "So do you, like, want to be a teacher?"
No, but I bet I could and probably should teach you what an adverb is because you definitely just messed it up five minutes ago while talking about the economics degree you received before you started talking down to me.
"But isn't English just, like, what we speak?"
You're right, why would anyone want to better understand the way we communicate? I must be prehistoric or something.
And then there is the one I really hate. Mostly because I want my inner monologue to answer, but I think if someone is taking the time to ask this, then they might actually care. And I need to be more polite, anyway.
"How did you get started writing?"
I always tell people writing is something you learn to do in elementary school when you're young. Some people treat it as a way to move to the next grade level and others treat it as the first time they ever learned to breathe. I'm in the latter group.
It's something I just never stopped doing. Like reading. But it wasn't until later in my life that I learned people stopped doing that. I actually didn't know that was an option and felt personally insulted for Twain and Fitzgerald and Didion and O'Connor and everyone else who gave themselves to pages to give to people who didn't care.
But I cared. I cared a lot.
When I got my first real computer that wasn't a hand-me-down from my parents, I went all-out and bought a Mac. I got it my sophomore year of college, when I was done with general education (mandatory "become a well-rounded person") credits and was finally in reading and writing classes. So I filled up my Mac, which I cleverly named Maccie.
I had stories from David Sedaris, Lia Purpura and classmates. I had everything I'd written since I was 19 years old. Things that mattered then that didn't anymore and things that mattered now that didn't then. I loved Maccie and I felt that she held parts of me that I'd never given to another person; she held part of my soul in among her weird computer parts that I'd never understand.
In January of this year, my apartment was broken into and Maccie was gone.
At first I didn't really know we were robbed. I thought I had broken the door trying to get inside as if I had somehow randomly developed strength I didn't know I had. I'm still trying to convince myself that I became a mutant from X-Men years ago, and my powers are finally showing themselves. Once I forced the door open, the lock fell straight to the floor. I looked around and everything looked normal.
Then I walked into my bedroom. I'm not known for my cleanliness; I'm known for my messiness. I'll leave clothes on the floor, jewelry and books on my nightstand, journals and pens everywhere, and I'm a notorious cup hoarder. But there was a bunch of crap all over my bed. Crap like broken markers, slips of paper and random pamphlets from college. Things that lived in my backpack. Where was my backpack? Who the hell in Nashville wanted an FSU backpack? (Spoiler: We won the National Championship later that same day, so maybe everyone in Nashville wanted an FSU backpack once their wounds had healed.)
I looked to my desk and didn't see Maccie. But Ernie, the dog, was barking like crazy. I took him out of his crate and he was shaking. He's a pretty anxious fella, so that was still normal. I looked under the bed, on my desk chair, under my covers, in the family room, in Kerry's room. Maccie was nowhere to be found.
Without any hesitation I called my best friend, Stefy.
"STEFY SOMEONE BROKE IN MY HOME AND MY MACBOOK IS GONE. THAT IS EVERYTHING I HAVE EVER WRITTEN I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO."
She told me to calm down and call the police.
I called the police. I called Kerry. I called my dad. I called my ex-almost-kind of-boyfriend, J. Then I cried. Then I realized I had just sent, earlier that day, my very first 12th & Broad column to the editor about moving to Nashville.Hemingway's wife accidentally lost his manuscripts, giving him a "blank slate" to begin writing again. Submitted
Nashville keeps making me do things I don't want to do. It made me — literally forced me — to have a fresh start here. The GM of 12th & Broad, Knight, said to me when I went to the office with my gruesome tale of burglary, "One of Hemingway's wives lost all of the work he'd been obsessing over for years. She was afraid to tell him because, well, he's Hemingway. But he said it was the best thing to ever happen to him because it gave him a fresh start to stop obsessing over the past and do something new. You should read The Paris Wife."
OK, Nashville. I get it. I need to grow up and grow into the person and woman and decent human being I'm supposed to be. So you took the job, you took the boy and you took my personal history when you took the Macbook. But writing is something that taught me to breathe and you gave me a writing job that makes me stop, assess and simply write. You let me tell my story of how I got here, then you expected more from me and gave me new material and a new outlet to showcase it. We have a very give-and-take relationship, Nash.
Coming to Nashville is one of the best things to ever happen to me because it gave me a fresh start. I stopped obsessing over the past and did something different. Just like Hemingway said. Just like Knight said.
But I have always hated Hemingway.
Spoiler No. 2: I bought The Paris Wife.
Past "Welcome to Nashville" columns: