12th & Broad

May. 19, 2014 10:38 AM

Dear Nashville: Hello and Goodbye

Hello Nashville Hello Nashville Brian Goins

Dear Nashville,

I've just arrived and already you've revealed much about yourself to me.

On the drive in I imagined Southern gentlemen and women who are quiet in spirit but loud in outfit. I could hear the country music I was sure would be constantly playing by the time I crossed into Georgia. I assumed no one ever slept because they were too busy playing gigs, pouring their souls into lyrics or throwing back beers.

Nashville, you surprised me.

Not all of your men were Southern. Finding a woman with a quiet spirit has been near impossible (though I do see the occasional bedazzled belt, cowboy boots or hat from women over 40). Country music exists in the streets of downtown, but not in the taverns and coffee shops in which my friends play. Most people here do, indeed, sleep at some point.

Despite promises of Southern hospitality, your welcome wasn't always warm. You've kicked me when I was down; you've isolated me from what felt comfortable. You've broken into my home and stolen my computer, which contained everything I'd ever written. You've given me parking ticket after parking ticket and forced me to learn to parallel park, mocking my first futile attempts. You've made me spend countless dollars on cold-weather clothing to survive your "mild" winter. You've made me eat vegan.

But I think you're wonderful. In spite of all of the things you've done and the ways you've surprised me, people I barely know have stood in my court, cheering for me to give it "one more chance" or "just a little more time." They want to know me and in turn, I want to know them. I want to know why they love the city they love.

So thank you, Nashville, for so many things. Thank you for showing me the difference between a Southern gentleman and a man born in the South. For allowing me to stand in the middle of fresh-fallen snow. For showing me seasons with trees in gorgeous colors. For introducing me to kind people willing to take in a 20-something Florida transplant with no family, friends or familiarity nearby. For the opportunities you continue to provide, and for the adventures we're sure to have for the rest of my time here.

All my love,

Jen Funt

Goodbye Nashville Goodbye Nashville Brian Goins

Dear Nashville,

This is a hard letter to write. I would never insult you with the "it's not you, it's me" line. But nonetheless, I am saying goodbye.

It's been a pretty wild ride, hasn't it? I love telling people the story of how we first met. It was eight years ago and my friend Sarah called to tell me she decided to move to Nashville and that I should come, too. I believe my exact response was "Um, sure. Why not?" Yes, that is how I came to make one of the best decisions of my life, and that's how we first met.

I rolled into town with my dad's trailer filled with mismatched, hand-me-down furniture. I should have been afraid. I was on my own, didn't have a job, knew only a handful of people in town and I had no idea what my next move would be. But I wasn't afraid at all. I was too excited to be afraid. Excited for what? I had no idea at the time. It was simply the excitement of the unknown, I guess.

You have a way of giving that to people, did you know that? That crazy spark inside of us that lights up the dark of the unknown. Not everyone likes living with uncertainty, but you, Nashville, you lure in the people, the dreamers, who are captivated by it.

I think that's my favorite thing about you. You have filled your neighborhoods, your studios, your writing rooms, offices and watering holes with those crazy dreamers who refuse to settle for the norm, who are motivated, not deterred, by the words "you can't" or "it's never been done before." You inspire them to try. Because here, where creativity is king, trying and failing is far more respected than playing it safe.

I want you to know I appreciate everything you have done for me. Thank you for the night I spent with Robert Plant and Alison Krauss at the Ryman. Thank you for the night I was moved to tears when I heard Tony Arata sing "The Dance" at the Bluebird. Thank you for the healing power you sprinkle on the tater tots at Paradise Park. Thank you for never kicking me off the karaoke stage even though I should not be allowed to sing in public, given the ridiculous talent that lives here. Thank you for the friendships I forged under your neon lights. Thank you for allowing me to be your ambassador these past several years. It has truly been a privilege to share my love for you with others.

As I step into the next chapter of unknowns, I have that same excited feeling I had when we first met. I know I'll discover new places, make new friends and have new adventures that will change me, but you will always have a place in my heart. I daresay you will always be my home.

Until we meet again,

Jenny Steuber