When I moved here almost 8 years ago, I was 18, fresh out of high school, and (nervously) ready for an adventure. From small town Wisconsin, you were a CITY. Big and glamorous. Southern. People said “y’all” and liked grits. There were sorority legacies and secret clubs. How would I ever fit into this place, this world unlike anything I had ever known?
Well, you welcomed me with gracious arms. You led me to the kindest, most genuine friends I’ve ever had. You were patient as I sampled southern delicacies – hot chicken, crawfish boils done the right way, collard greens, banana pudding, sweet tea, coconut cake, and more. You showed me that it’s okay to be an outsider – because more than half the city is made up of people like me. You were also patient when I was learning about fraternity formal cooler making extravaganzas, where to use those certain IDs, and what I was going to do with my life (I’m still wondering!). You taught me about the “southern way,” that everyone is connected by some third-twice-removed cousin, and that love runs deep. Most importantly, you’re also home to Vanderbilt, to the place where I spent an amazing 5.5 years of my life.
When my family and I rolled up to school with our jam packed SUV full of matching dorm room decorations and many nervous butterflies, I thought I knew everything. I was going to 1) be a doctor, 2) get that southern accent I always wanted, 3) marry my southern college sweetheart, and 4) follow my perfect life plan in order from A-Z. But oh, noooo! You showed me otherwise. You took my “perfect” plan and flipped it upside down and threw it out the window. (Except the part about marrying my southern college sweetheart – you got that right!) Being type-A, I reluctantly learned to roll with the punches. I got a C+ in freshman chemistry. I decided to be a pediatric nurse practitioner. Then switched paths entirely, again. Now, I like to think I fly by the seat of my pants – I’m always up to try something new, out of the box, and extraordinary – a mindset that has been hard to accept but I’m so much better because of it. This will get me farther in life than any degree will! You taught me how to live a life full of grace and gratitude – to welcome spontaneity and adventure, to savor even the littlest of moments because life is too short, to always take the high road, to learn something new each day, to go outside of my comfort zone, to live with my heart on my sleeve and welcome life with a gracious heart.
When I look back on my 8 years with you, they have been absolutely, wholeheartedly incredible. With your help, I became ME – I truly grew up. At 21, I had my own place and was now the person in charge of running a home and realized there isn’t a laundry fairy after all, juggled what seemed like a million activities and responsibilities at once, cared for 3 itty bitties all by myself, planned a wedding, got my first job, then my second and third, and then my fourth. I learned more about honesty, authenticity, values, adventure, heartbreak, love, responsibility, friendship, courage, bravery, determination, and happiness than I had ever known before. I learned what I truly want out of life – what makes me happy, fired up, motivated, and full of joy. You taught me about budgets and that no, you can’t buy every meal from the Whole Foods hot bar. I made many mistakes you were witness to – too much weeknight fraternizing (maybe I could have gotten an A in chem after all), backing into a parking garage pole, that expensive drink of saline solution at the ER for dehydration, too many brookies at the dining hall, and many more that aren’t worthy of reliving all over again. But let’s not forget that I also made you proud! I ran 6 half marathons, studied abroad in Copenhagen, baked sweet treats to celebrate birthdays, took brave steps to figure out what I want to do professionally, hosted dinner parties, went to the CMAs, and more.
Thank you, Nashville, for being my sweet southern home. You offered so many wonderful places for unforgettable memories: Love Hill where Grant proposed, Belle Meade Plantation where we got married, Vanderbilt University where I graduated twice, Fido where I have eaten almost everything on the menu at least once, Arrington Vineyards where we’ve had delicious picnics, 12th South where I have logged more miles than I ever could have imagined, the Patton home where I have loved on a family that is now my own family, Woodlawn Drive that once connected my parents’ home to my home, Donut Den where we spent many weekend mornings, the Greenway where my mom and I walked and talked almost daily, and so many others. I will never forget the impact you’ve had on my life or the people you brought into it.
I’m leaving today with a full heart – one bursting with love and gratitude for all the LIFE you have given me. We now have memories, stories, and adventures to last us a lifetime. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.