Tag Archives: Opryland USA

CRANBERRY CLOUDS ACROSS MUSIC CITY

I’m sitting here in my room at the Radisson Airport overlooking a sky of clouds in hues of cranberry, charcoal and periwinkle contemplating the last night of my fabulous trip home to Nashville. I’ve had an amazing time seeing very good friends, eating good southern food and venturing to old haunts of days past. I wish I could have seen everyone I had wanted to but there will be other trips. Now it’s time to get back and focus on Mr. All American Gent 2013 with workouts, dance training and blinging the house down. Sondra Celli watch your back and glue gun, Gal!

Here in Nashville, after arriving on Friday afternoon, I’ve seen Aurora Sexton turn out some Fergie Ferg, Miss Fergalicious. I’ve been confused between Katy Perry and Sara Andrews trying to figure out which one was onstage at Play Saturday night. I braved shopping at Cool Springs Galleria with Mom and found myself picking out angel ornaments in a Christian Bookstore. Somehow the word “gay” slipped out of my mouth a few times. Blaspheme. I loved those stores as a teenager! I’ve worshiped a soulful woman of color over some soul food realness she provided me and my best friend Kristy at At The Table on 12 Ave. South. I found the final touches on my formal wear at Macy’s at a cute discount on “Friends and Family” day.

I Ki-Ki’d with a dear friend Fred Scott at Tribe with our legs crossed reliving days behind cocktails. It meant SO much he came out and made the true effort to see me. He used to whoop my wigs into an Ivana Trump for your nerves during my competitive drag days. Worship him. I enjoyed giggles of high-kicks past with my dance girls and teacher Mrs. Cathy from our company days over margaritas. Opryland Christmas lights twinkled above Mom and I as we ventured out for a nice evening drive. Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme battled it to their sugary death. But when the sign flashed Hot. Donughnuts. Now. and they sure did I tell you, the glazed delights pulled ahead. However, the still fresh munchkins in the box next to me are calling my name so let’s call it an even draw. I’ve made it to all my favorites so it’s been a win-win for my appetite.

My trips home are always great and I return to Palm Springs so vitalized and appreciative of what I’ve become and where I’ve been. It’s exactly what I needed before the contest to give me a chance to step back and see it all from a different perspective. I’ve had the chance to talk even more about what’s happening and it’s helpful hearing it aloud and described getting people’s reactions who are, for the most part, detached from the scene and circuit. BIG THANKS to Bobby who hooked an old friend up as always with my room. Indoor pool, weight room and onsite food. Can’t best it! Don’t let the Radisson “Airport” location scare anyone. I don’t hear one plane. I hear more at my Mom’s and the hotel is only 3 minutes from BNA.

My flight heads out tomorrow at 1:30 with a layover in Dallas just long enough to watch my downloaded rented movie Step Up 4: Revolution having a cocktail and fried mozzarella sticks at a Chili’s, Too. Maybe a spot of bird watching if the mood strikes me. After the cocktail, I’m sure it will!

Good Night and Safe Travels! And the final picture is of Nikki. It was only after dinner did we notice what she had done. I squealed with my camera in hand!

SEASONS CHANGE

STEVEN SPILLS © 107

SEASONS CHANGE

With this being the final installment of “Steven Spills” for 2011, I wanted to finish the year with a bang. These stories are from the heart. I just returned from a holiday visit home to Nashville where I checked in on mom, laughed with friends over dinner and drinks, and felt the southern Christmas magic I did as a child. However, as I looked around it wasn’t only the seasons that had changed around my old haunts in Music City USA. (Cue 80s girl-group Expose Greatest Hits for soundtrack.)

I moved on into the road of life at twenty-two when I escaped the restraints of a very tight Bible Belt and “graduated” to Atlanta. I say graduated because if one moved on from Nashville or surrounding smaller cities, that’s usually where they went on to. This was over two decades ago and things would obviously change over time but on this trip home I was reassured how much. I was continually reminded of how I had grown up and on into adulthood past a more simple way of being.

When I was twenty, I was working a part-time job here and one there and wherever else I could make a dollar. During these years, the shopping mall that was THE place to be was Hickory Hollow Mall. It was an actual event going! Where would you eat in the Food Court? Hot Dog on a Stick or Chick-Fil-A? Should you spend your allowance at Spencer’s, the arcade or Merry Go Round first? What if you see “so-and-so” and they act like they know that you told that something that you shouldn’t have but did and now they’re pissed?!

I actually worked at Hickory Hollow over time as a server at Ruby Tuesday’s, luggage store Nashville Trunk, clothing store J Riggins and Mitchell’s Formal Wear where I measured the inseam of hot straight guys standing in front of me in their socks being fitted for tuxedos. To see the place now, the crime-ridden empty mall, makes me incredibly sad. Sad enough to slightly weep to myself this last trip as I stood alone watching down at Santa Claus sitting quietly in his chair not a child to be found to sit in his lap.

The dreary weather that poured down outside didn’t help the scene at the desolate once-monumental mall. As the long corridors have begun to close in towards the middle due to inactivity, the demise of Hickory Hollow Mall is tragically inevitable. With online shopping flourishing and flagship stores evolving elsewhere, the once popular places of excessive expenditure suffer! Hello, maybe you’ve heard of the Desert Fashion Plaza?!

Nashville has grown leaps and bounds since my days of stomping around the knowing streets that still give me feelings of happiness when traveled upon. But the things that stay constant are conservative views, churches positioned every ten feet and scattered BUSH ’04 stickers that still adorn American-made car bumpers. We even tripped out to Opry Mills shopping mall that once homed Opryland USA, a fabulous theme park I spent two adolescent summers working at through stagnant heat while chopping off tops to plastic fruits that held sugary juice inside. With changing times, the theme park was finally flattened in 1997 and resurrected as a retail heaven.

Today, the still-closed shopping mall that stood against the great Nashville flood of ’10 has a predicted re-opening in the spring of ’12. But as we drove by it really seems like someone needs to be working harder because it is still quite closed. The Grand Ole Opry reopened rather quickly and has a full schedule of performers throughout the year. The beautiful holiday lights of Opryland Hotel located next door delivered some Christmas spirit to my mom and I. However, past memories of what once was dominated the conversation between us as blue and white lights twinkled over our car driving through the grand hotel grounds.

When I return from a trip home I always feel that I bring back with me another layer of my maturity. I see that my life is amazingly unique and the wonderful bubble I often take for granted here in Palm Springs shouldn’t be seen as such. Being back home in Nashville is an escape of what’s expected from me in the world I live in today. That can be a wonderful break. Just saying. I continually appreciate myself more, my life and those in it. I’ve come a long way, baby!

Happy New Year… You, Me and We.

2011 © PULP