I know I’ve talked about my general feelings towards Nashville in previous blog posts and instagrams, but after my visit this weekend, I wanted to explain a little more about how this all came to be and why this city does weird things to me.
My dream when I was in my early teens was to live in Nashville. At the time, I was really into what I thought were underground artists and musicians. It was as I was beginning to pick up my camera and start photography, and I loved the idea of being a photographer who toured with bands and took show photos & behind the scenes photos of life on the road. Of course I had NO idea what that actually would have looked like, but I dreamed it and thought it was going to be a fun and big and adventurous way to combine two things that I loved. Over the years, my career dreams shifted to something more practical, but the idea of living in Nashville was always something I wanted to pursue. I have the most vivid memory of being in the back seat of my parents car over winter break my junior year of college, asking them if I might be able to make that move happen if I could find a summer internship. By the grace and providence of the Lord, the pieces fell into place and 5 months later I was holding back tears as I exited 440, realizing a dream was coming true right before my eyes. I will never forget that moment pulling off the highway onto Hillsboro Rd.
I spent two months exploring the city by way of Nashville Lifestyles magazine, gaining two dear friends along the way who were the perfect adventure buddies, food testers, and models (and for the record – they still are!). The end of summer 2014 brought a lot of heartbreak, and I pretty much made up my mind that I wasn’t going to pursue a full time job there, so far away from home and from friends and family. By winter of that year, my pride and independence had taken over and I decided that the adventure and leap of faith was in fact, just what I needed.
Five months later in May 2015, I was flying to Nashville with my dad to apartment search. I spent the next year and a half working and living in a city full of youth and energy and creativity and all of the next best things: 100 layer donuts, wall murals that never seem to end, live music and concerts on the green, $18 cocktails that I still refuse to indulge in, sitting in the back of a pickup truck in the middle of BFE on first dates, hiking in the hills, and more – I made memories that I will cherish forever. It was a season of chaos and a total rollercoaster of emotions, but it soon felt unrealistic and unsustainable. I spent the first 8 months of 2016 praying over a job search that would lead me back to Oklahoma, and I somehow snagged the dream role at OU (that I’m still in and loving!) by the fall.
When I visit Nashville, I get to experience all the good things that I fell in love with 5 years ago. The city has changed so much, and continues to change, which is hard to accept and witness as it morphs into a town I never knew. I won’t go into specifics about my grievances because I think every place has its pros and cons, but for me, the negatives were enough to push me back towards home. Knowing that, I still firmly believe that I left a huge piece of my heart in Nashville. I think the Lord used my time there specifically to reveal his faithfulness and trustworthiness. His plan was apparent – putting the pieces together when I picked up my life and moved there knowing barely a soul and somehow securing a job, roommate, and walking through life-changing opportunities in a matter of months. And then of course by the intricacies and details he so obviously crafted when I left to return to Oklahoma. He used the experience to develop my independence, boldness, and persistence. He still uses this city today in my life – every time I visit, I feel a push to be more of the fun, carefree, and spontaneous girl that Nashville pulled out of me.
I put together a few fun throwbacks from when I lived in the city full time + the recreations of those photos from my 32-hour trip in January – I love seeing the similarities, knowing how different things are now.
Love you & hate you forever, Nashville, TN!!!
JENI I LOVE YA Don’t hate me.
Backpack crew Always saving the best for last!