Or Austin or Idaho or Utah or ______
4:30am, Nashville TN —
In a sparsely decorated upstairs flat a man tosses uneasily, the only spectator a peace lily, purchased one week before and possibly needing water.
“I don’t know sometimes. . .”
Shoot. Not quite it.
“I just don’t know, Sandra. . .”
“Sherry, I just don’t know about _______ sometimes.”
It’s a different name darn it, it’s not Sandra, not Sherry, it’s. . .
Gahhh. . !
When I have a movie line stuck in my head and before I figure where it’s from I’m no good to anyone.
And yes there are some things even Google can’t find.
I have three or four friends I could call who might know the line but being in Central Time Zone means I’m s.o.l.
Central Time Zone?
I’m in Nashville.
Friends here? No new ones yet, no. My good friends that I know here have been in Japan for two years on a job assignment and are returning next week.
But brand new friends —
That’s what it’s about though right? — Meeting people and moving that is.
It’s hard enough to meet new people as we get older in general and now — during or post-Covid?
Add a dollop of difficulty if you’re single.
Wait — what? Am I opening up an honest dialogue about an annoyance or unhealthy aspect of this past year’s efforts to mitigate the virus — other than masks and business closures and deaths?
Well, I guess I am.
It’s actually a topic for a whole ‘nuther post but let’s just be clear, being single during the virus sucks. (somewhere there’s a mom trapped inside her home, pulling her hair out whilst home-schooling kids run her ragged who seriously disagrees).
Fine I’ll get more specific.
Being single (and being someone who enjoys meeting new people) has been very difficult during this pandemic, and the issue lingers, despite my new state’s (TN) looser rules than my exit state’s (CA).
Before this virus, and our reactions to it, what was one of the most enjoyable things to hear as a single person? Other than:
“How long you been wearing such tight pants”
— which is obviously number one (duh). . .
I mean the four words that can start a conversation, a friendship, or even more, and they’re said often — or at least they used to be said — almost daily at bars, movie theatres, churches, airports, even in the first minutes of the nostalgic and neo-classic Forrest Gump:
“Is this seat taken?”
A stranger sitting down next to us can be a drag in a movie theatre, I understand. But the uncertainty of who that stranger might be, where they might be from, and why they might be here (again: bar, theatre, church, airport, etc. .) at the same time as you, is (was) one of life’s unexpected gifts.
In my humble opinion.
Aside: I have a different view of going to a pub (sounds better than a bar doesn’t it) after visiting London, Wales, and Scotland with a friend a few years back. After seeing the pubs packed from literally 5:01 to about 6:20 with everyone in suits and interesting neckties (men) and sexy business outfits (women), I finally understood the whole “popping in for a pint,” social aspect of pubs — and bars — that I’d heretofore largely missed.
My friend and I popped in one near Kensington on that fateful trip, with my friend exclaiming in an all-too typical American style “so you don’t like George Bush much over here do ya?”
I found a football conversation to engage in down the bar and let him dig himself out of that one.
But often if I were (again pre-pand) just going to grab a drink after work or — as I am now — in a new town, where would I go, and what would I hope for?
I would go to a bar. And I would want to meet people.
Now I admittedly am not as good at meeting people (ok women) at bars as I should be, (and even as many assume I am) but I’ve still had plenty of great conversations at bars (pubs) and yes sometimes with women, and especially when moving into a new town, where the heck else are you supposed to start?
The produce section?
Maybe, but good luck getting anything but a derogatory stare from the opposite sex if you enter the forbidden six-foot zone as of late ever since the safety orders came down the pike.
The produce section? “Lots of melons, everyone touching and squeezing, it’s very erotic.” — SEINFELD!
“Jerry, I just don’t know sometimes.” !!!! That’s it!! It’s a Seinfeld! Whew! Ahh wow that feels so much better.
Man that was a long intro.
We’ve all see the stats of the droves leaving CA. At least I think we have. Are they real? Who knows. If you judged by traffic you’d have to disagree.
Regardless it seems there’s a whole lotta shaking going on. By shaking I mean moving.
Pandemic to blame? Maybe.
Home prices? Certainly.
Working remotely being more accepted? Definitely.
I know eight families from California alone that now live in Tennessee. And another two or three may be coming later this year.
I just called my local Nashville AAA office to update my address and make a change to my insurance, and my request was met with a “Yeah, we’re getting about eight to ten people a week, most who came from California.”
But this is not about California.
Moving’s in my blood, for better or worse, since I was a kid. My parents’ divorce when I was one meant that by age six we’d moved nine times.
What’s that they say about age zero-to-five being incredibly important for stability and brain development and focus?
I realize this has been a ramble, and maybe it’s because I lived here three years ago for six months, so I already know places I like and in general how to get around.
In other words the novelty of Nashville happened then. Not so much now.
But also this last time I’ve felt more observant.
As I wait.
For that moment, or that thing, or that person, that might make <insert town> to feel like home.
And understanding maybe it doesn’t exist.
But if it does here’s a few of the things I’ve noticed to trigger your brains’ acceptance of your new digs:
- That first time you run an errand and don’t even think to check the map or gps.
- When your mail starts coming without that pale yellow sticker.
- When you hear a news item about the town or state you just left and realize it doesn’t apply to you.
- That first time you hear ‘your song’ (or band) on a local radio station.
- The first time you notice there’s a neighbor who’s seen you get out of your car every day for two weeks and you finally pause to say hi.
- You do something for the second or third time (like a jog or a bike ride) that you realize is becoming part of your new life.
- You give out your new address and it sounds normal. Like really normal.
- You meet someone new and learn more about them than just their name. And when you leave (the pub, the hike, the church) you say, “See ya next time.”
And you know there’ll be a next time.
Is that it?
Ask me next time.