It all just seems too rushed. In between the planning and the prepping for all things in the coming months, I forgot to make time for leaving. I forgot to make time for goodbyes. It was easy to overlook–everything coming up in the future is a good type of nerve-racking: buying a home, getting married, moving to a new city, going on a honeymoon. And Nashville hasn’t been my favorite place I’ve ever lived. So of course it was easy to forget to prepare for leaving.
This weekend is my last in Nashville. I asked my partner how he felt about it; I asked if he was going to miss anything.
“No because you’re coming with me.”
I feel similar. Of all Nashville has given me, it’s the fact that I’m a stronger more mature woman that I care about the most–and that can’t be left behind. I can do without the overwhelming construction accompanied by gentrification; I can make without the lonely nights. I won’t mind saying goodbye to the tears, to the anxiety of being no less than three hours away from those I love most. I can wash my hands of the trying to fit in, say adios to figuring out adulthood. I look forward to not feeling like an outcast in a city too preoccupied with looks and trends. I can even say goodbye to the happy things: the batman building, the parks, the festivals, the farmers market, and the bridge.
But I can’t say goodbye to my growth.
In Nashville, I learned to be responsible for more than my own well-being. I started to clean myself of selfishness and instead replace it with empathy, hard work and self care.
In Nashville, I learned how to accept the consequences of adulthood. I paid the tickets, the fines for not registering my car. I learned how to save money, and now (because of that) afford a house.
In Nashville, I learned to be alone. I learned how to be independent. I learned how to wipe away tears of loneliness each morning for those first few months and still put on my brave face until it didn’t hurt anymore and the friends I so longed for became my Nashville family.
In Nashville, I learned how to love someone forever. I learned what it meant to accept all of a person and to want to grow with that person forever. I learned how to compromise with that person, to love from afar and relish in the closeness.
In Nashville, I learned how to become a forever learner, how to be a good student, and how to accept my label as nerd.
In Nashville, I grew up. I did “post grad” hard and learned the most from those experiences.
But here’s the the thing; I don’t need Nashville to carry those things with me.
In December, I vowed to create a bucket list of things I wanted to do and see before I left in May. I think it’s fitting that I became too busy to make or finish that non-existent list… Because the things I learned in Nashville can’t be summarized by places I’ve been or things I’ve seen: they’re in the person I am, the person I am bringing with me.
Am I sad to leave Nashville? Eh, not really.
My partner and I get to start a life together in the coming months. The friends I am leaving here causes me sadness; but not grief, for they’re the types of soul-enriching friends that I know will remain in my life for years to come. If a city could have values, I don’t think they’d align much with mine and so the disconnect I’ve felt the past several years living in a city consumed primarily by consumerism and pleasure is coming to an end. I don’t have to smile nicely when I tell people I live in Nashville and they say “oh my gosh, the best city ever!” and I have to lie and say how great it is to be in Music City. Because it hasn’t been “the best ever”… it’s been good. It’s been enriching. It’s been happy and maddening and way beyond description. It’s been life. And life isn’t always the best thing ever. But it’s been beautiful. And it’s been me.
I do, still, want to say goodbye. I’ll do so this weekend with my partner. We’ll meet up with friends. We’ll re-visit the places that hold memories. And we’ll say adieu in lieu of a shining future ahead.
Yeah, I forgot to say goodbye to Nashville, but that’s okay because it’s never really going to leave me, in the end.