MUSIC CITY USA – NASHVILLE NOW

Sometimes I think I should become some sort of travel administrator and know-it-all go-to. I can find a great flight deal by scanning the sites and making quick comparisons between which days to leave versus price and seat difference. Call me Kayak. Give me an aisle seat so I can entertain my bladder at its whim of activity, a good stretch opportunity and a decent fair ($309 this round) and I’m cranked ready to travel the (hopefully) friendly skies.

Traveling makes me feel quite “Randy” so I can truly appreciate all the single men traveling alone glancing my way and giving it a butch nod. Makes for sweet dreams when I’m snuggled beside them in my aisle seat. American Airlines delivered me to BNA Music City via a relaxing layover in Dallas/Fort Worth DFW, both ways of the round trip. This gave me enough time to cruise through the terminals and SkyLink transit system where I had food at T.G.I.Fridays and a good cocktail, too!

After grabbing my bag off the conveyor belt at baggage claim I pressed it down to Enterprise to obtain my reserved rental car. I usually carry my bag on with me when traveling these days because of the exorbitant fees but decided this time to splurge and check it in Palm Springs. When I made it through BNA into the garage with my rolling suitcase in tow where the cars sat I was offered an upgrade for a sports car. I inquired about an increase in my bill and the sales rep admitted that yes there would be a charge.

After telling him that I was fine and last time they upgraded me to a Jeep Patriot with no charge, he then offered me an upgrade to either minivan or truck. Unable to refuse any type of freeness or upgrade, I figured the minivan could come into use if mom wanted to donate stuff from her apartment so I chose that. I looked like quite the soccer dad driving this white minivan around like it was my Stella Stang back in Palm Springs. I paid it nada and ran those streets of Nashville as if it were a sports car.

Once I checked into the Radisson near the airport I rinsed the travel off me and unpacked my crammed-in clothing begging to be released from its luggage dungeon. I had been doing some research on where to stay before departure and came across a dear friend who I’ve known for over two decades. Bobby has been in the hotel industry for years and our dear friendship truly came into play when I made my reservation at his hotel. The location was slightly closer to mom than where I usually stay with less traffic from the Brentwood route. The Radisson has free Internet, free parking, spacious comfortable rooms, an indoor pool plus fitness facility and a restaurant on property. It’s my new home when in Nashville.

I always have a great time when I return to Nashville. I reconnect with good friends, take my mom out and about for a few days and it gives me time to miss and appreciate the comfortable bubble that I live and work in here in Palm Springs. My mom still works full-time and is a single gal at 68 but doesn’t get out much unless I come into town or someone takes her. I love driving her around Nashville and letting her see what’s happening in the city. We shop, eat good southern food and have a ton of laughs and a few cries along the way.

I love that we are close and have a strong bond. People ask if I dread going back home to Nashville and I can honestly say I love and enjoy my time there. It took me a few years after leaving at 22 to having any desire about returning but the older, err, better I’ve gotten the more I want to go back. My mom has a lot of life in her still. I’m glad I’m able see that in person and am able to visit home as much as I do.

I dropped her back home after a heaping pile of BBQ at Bar-B-Cutie on Saturday and ran back to the hotel before heading out for the evening. After a quick change of drag the minivan purred down the interstate toward West End. I decided to take a detour through 2nd Avenue which is where the honky-tonks and straight country music listeners are pouring out of bars and clubs. Mistake. Construction had everything in a scrambled chaotic mess and cars were going every which way. I was so glad I had good music in the stereo and a delicious valium that was just easing into my system to get me through the killing.

Arriving at PLAY, I walked in during the middle of the show so I did get to see all of the girls perform at least once. After paying the exorbitant $10 cover to get into PLAY I made sure I got my money’s worth. Yes, $10. Shazy… (Shady + Crazy.) Shady of them for charging it and crazy for me to pay it. Hopefully they pay the girls well like they truly deserve. After a few stiff drinks I didn’t really care about the cover charge anymore. I soaked up the exciting night out and let it all go.

The show was fun because I had the best seat in the house even getting there late. I strutted through the packed crowd and tipped every girl a couple of ones and stayed perched in front of everyone I had just pushed through. I didn’t give a fuck if they liked it or not. No one was going to say a word to me at that point. I was feeling my moment taking pictures of the girls while they performed and living for the up close and personal aspect of it all. Like I said, I had a couple of cute drinks and did I mention the delicious Valium?

Of course, I could let it all go because I was basically invisible. No one really talked to me or looked my way other than the entertainers I knew so I was able to relax and pay it nooch. Translation: Not very much, without a care in the world. I spent much of my time after the show chatting with Jack Ryan on the phone sitting next to some chick who had smartly brought her iPhone charger and was plugged-in chatting the chat down with someone on her other line.

Times have truly changed from the days of going out and cruising around, picking up someone and leaving together to today’s social networking and constant glare of LCD light coming from Smartphones being used across nightclubs. I’m not knocking it because it truly saved me next door at Tribe the next night as I perched quietly as the one of only five people in the bar including two bartenders. I sat in my patheticness and laughed at the whole thing while taping away on time-killers Grindr and Scruff. Boring. Flakes continually looking for something else. Especially Grindr. Delete from phone.

Sunday, mom and I had our breakfast at Cracker Barrel and afterwards I pressed it down to Murfreesboro for a regional competition for Showstopper Dance. I met my three loves Christie, Stacey and Shanda who I danced with in Nashville where we all grew up together. They are super special to me and we are blessed to still have a tight bond to this day. The dancers onstage were all over the board in fierceness or flatness but overall there were some amazing routines and performers. I’m so glad I made the trek down. It inspired me to continue with my plans on making a choreography reel.

Back in Nashville, mom had a gift card for Olive Garden so I got to find out what all the fuss was about the breadsticks that you hear about in the commercials. They were tasty but I wasn’t blown away. However, I did have four of them. I believe you can buy them at Trader Joe’s. No Tea – No Shade. The food wasn’t horrible but it definitely wasn’t cuisine found in real Italy. The chairs rolled. Just saying. I had never been to an Olive Garden before…

On Monday I met my best friend from high school Kristy and her wonderful “Babies’ Daddy” and husband Tim for the most soulful of soul food at a place on 12 Avenue South called At The Table. I wanted to find some really good southern soul food and Kristy immediately sent directions to this gem. My mouth is watering just typing these words. As it’s been said before, “These women put both feet up in this food.” Not exactly, but it was so good you will want to slap someone. Classic “meat and three” (but two) handed to you in a styrofoam to-go moment and the experience is priceless. Southern simplicity at its finest. As my dear sister Kristy texted me before arriving, “Fried Chicken Realness.”

Tuesday presented another trip to the Cracker Barrel for a hearty breakfast and some closet cleaning for mom with donations made afterwards by me. I met Bobby for drinks at Canvas later back on West End with his boyfriend Caleb (or Kaleb – not sure) and afterwards we had sushi at Ru San’s. It was really good but the menu was way too complicated. It was so great seeing Bobby and getting to know his boyfriend. I love me some Bobby Smith. I happily flew back to Palm Springs the next day into the arms of the man I love and the furry kisses of the kids I missed.

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