My glass of bourbon is half full. My cigarette is burning in the window sill as I try to drown out the noise of my fellow drinking companions in the bar I am in that is down the alley from my new home. It’s difficult because the young man two tables down is describing the beginning of an evening long relationship with a 50 year-old woman. I don’t need to continue eavesdropping to know how it ends, as he is hanging his head, referring to her as “this old lady” and having trouble looking his buddy in the eye. Hopefully she got something nice out of it because Billy over there sure didn’t. Traffic is cruising by at a slow pace, a football game is on and no one is watching, most people in here have on a plaid shirt, a slouchy hat, smokes an off brand cigarette, and says “bro” a lot. I, admittedly, fit in well. Welcome to East Nashville, where the man is hated more here than at a Black Panther meeting and people don’t get up in the morning unless they are out of tomato juice and need a bloody Mary(do you capitalize Mary? I guess so, the woman has saved lives…) from the bar that only serves organic, local food. I made the mistake of telling my Brazilian waxist that I was interviewing at a, wait for it, corporate restaurant…and I swear she took skin off on purpose. It’s a far cry from the Cowboy hat ridden streets that I grew up envisioning, not that doesn’t exist here, it’s just on the other side of the river. This little area has managed to compartmentalize itself with its distinct clan of young twenty something’s with an enormous sense of entitlement and a shared love of glasses without a prescription. I love living in a neighborhood where being cute is considered a negative and weirdness prevails. Fuck you pretty popular ones who wouldn’t sign my year book, fuck you. What’s a hipster neighborhood without judgment and a little self-loathing? Not to mention the ever-crucial component of “I’m mad at my Dad”.
Despite my sarcastic and cynical view on my new surroundings (out of character, I know) I really do love it here. My observations of the community are dead on, however there is a twist. The people here are psychotically friendly and go out of their way to welcome me to Nashville. I thought that the mid-west was nice. Which I verbaled to the local barista yesterday and somehow he charmingly conveyed that the mid-west is nice, but somehow they are nicer. The creative energy down here replaces the competitive one of Chicago, New York, and LA. People want to get ahead, but not without saying “excuse me” first. Nightly, I sit on my deck and hear a different neighbor finger his bass, stroke his keys, or sing a long and throaty note through her well conditioned vocals, as though they are on stage at the Ryman. People have soul here, the south has soul…and it’s doing good things for mine.