Nashville

This afternoon, I got an e-mail from my old roommate in Nashville, one that completely broke my heart, but at the same time relieved me so much to learn she was okay.  By now, all of you surely know about the flooding in Nashville and the huge crisis they are currently facing as the Cumberland River pours across the city.  You know that people have been evacuated, that historic landmarks are underwater, and that several have lost their lives trying to survive and salvage their homes.  What you may not know is that Nashville is truly one of the most special places in the world. It’s not just the music… although you can go to any bar, anytime, any day, and hear some of the best live country, rock, jazz and blues music you’ve ever heard.  It’s not just the food…although at any time of the day or night, you can get mouth-watering barbeque, deep fried pickles, or out of this world homemade pie.  It’s not just the architecture, or the sports venues,or the trendy little shops and restaurants you can’t find anywhere else.  It’s the people.  The people who play the music, even from the sidewalk when they’re down on their luck.  It’s the people who serve you the barbeque with a smile on their face and a “Hey hon, how ya doing?” as if you’ve known them your whole life and you've just come over for dinner.  These people changed my life, changed my attitude, and made the year and a half I spent in Nashville one of the happiest times of my life.  These people make up the heart and soul of this amazing city, and are the main reason this city has boomed in the past ten years and become one of the top cities to relocate to.  People move to the city to follow their music dreams, people move to the city to fall in love, people move to the city to raise their kids in a place where southern hospitality isn’t just a line in a song.  It’s a great city…  a city that is now reeling from water devastation, and it kills me to sit here and write this and feel so helpless.  I wish I could give more than money and words… both seem so small compared to the gigantic losses the city of Nashville and its residents are facing.  But hopefully in spreading the word here, I will help people to realize how serious the situation in Nashville is.  It doesn't seem to have gotten the media coverage it deserves, and the city can't recover without our help.  Please, please, think about donating here or here.

I wanted to include some pictures in this post to help show and explain why Nashville is so important to me.  All of these pictures were taken with a super old point and shoot that has since died on me, so the quality is horrible, but it gets my point across... I hope :)  These first two shots of downtown were taken from the bridges that lead over to Titan Stadium.  For those who haven't been there, the "bat building" is definitely the most noticeable building on the skyline.  Officially, it's the AT&T Building.  Unofficially, the bat building :)

The Cumberland... the level it should be...

The Country Music Hall of Fame is right downtown and one of my favorite tourist attractions, being a huge country music fan... just the architecture of it is incredible...

Music Row is an incredible part of the city.  To be standing within a square block of so much talent always amazed me. I read today that dozens of artists lost all their equipment, much of it stored on Music Row.

This was my neighborhood, Hillsboro Village.  Hands down one of the best places to live in Nashville.  I might be a little bias, but some of my favorite restaurants and bars are there...

And I had the best landlords ever, so that helped.  I am super grateful for them, as they have been taking care of my old roommates during this horrible disaster... they are the epitome of Southern hospitality and class, and everything I said about the people of Nashville is reflected in their generous spirits.  These are The Clark's...

And this was my old house, where my old roommates still live, although water now submerges the basement and seeps into the first floor...

And these are more visual reasons of why I love Nashville... first: in what other place besides Nashville (or maybe Las Vegas) can you watch your roommate ordain a wedding at a bar?

This is my old roommate Amber and I at the Bluebird Cafe, a world famous songwriters cafe that all the greats have played at.  That night we saw Tyler Hilton, Sean McConnell and Lori McKenna.  I am happy to say the Bluebird is not right downtown and didn't sustain major damage, so they are still open.

This was my cousin and I at my favorite Nashville spot, the Opryland Hotel.  Today, when Ava e-mailed me, I literally choked up when I saw the pictures of the hotel that she linked to the e-mail.  For anyone who has stayed at a Gaylord Hotel before, you must know how glorious and spectacular they are to walk around.  The hotel is now submerged and had to be evacuated.  You can see the devastation the hotel suffered here.

This was my friend Lisa and I at a Titans game.  Yes, it's true... while I lived in Nashville I became a Titans fan.  But game days were so fun... so much energy downtown, so many great people out, enjoying the game, meeting new friends.  Lisa and I went a few times and had a blast each time.  This is Titans Stadium now.

This was my and my Dad in Robert's Western World.  As you can see, it's bright outside (this was taken about 1:00 p.m.) and as you can see, there's a band playing behind us.  I love the music in Music City.  Any time of day, anywhere you are, live music follows you... and who can be in a bad mood when listening to live music?

Another great thing to love about Nashville... you run into celebrities everywhere.  Everywhere.  And they're just like normal people.  They love Nashville and they're out to hear some music and get loud and have a good time.  And they let you do things like this... gotta love Mark Wills...

So this is probably the most important thing about Nashville, so I saved the best for last.  Family.  I have family in Tennessee that I love to pieces, and I know I'm not the only one.  I know my loved ones are safe... but imagine being down there in this mess, feeling helpless to be able to fix things for the ones around you.  I won't get all mushy and corny and trite (I've probably already covered that) but I am so glad my family is safe and that at least they have each other down there...

In an indirect way, Nashville kind of lead me into photography, or at least helped along the path.  It was when I was living in Nashville that I decided to pursue photography as a career.  I had connected with these photographers back home to see if they would need an apprentice, and they asked me to shoot some stuff and send it to them.  I only had a point and shoot at that point, and a great friend named Ginger who was willing to put her wedding dress on and run all over downtown with me.  These two pictures helped me to get my first photography job, and so I am grateful to Nashville for providing such pretty scenery...

Okay, I promise I am done ranting about Nashville now, and showing you horrible- quality point and shoot pictures of my life there.  But it was my life.  Nashville was a huge part of my life, and still is, and I am sending all my thoughts and prayers out to the people there as they deal with this ordeal.  I'll leave you with two links Ava sent to me today.  The first is a video of the devastation and the second is a short but inspiring blog by a local Predators fan about the true spirit of Music City. Thank you, Ava, for sharing... and please don't be too mad at me for posting the picture of you ordaining a wedding :)  Everyone else, please...if nothing else, please send your thoughts and prayers to Music City... they need them now.