Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From Bubble Gum to, well, Bubble Wrap...

It's a tale as old as time. A song as old as rhyme. While it's the greatest Disney movie ever made, I am not referring to Beauty and the Beast. It's the other timeless tale of a girl who fell in love and chased a crazy dream she had. It's the story of a little girl named Kristen, rockin' the 80s get-up at the tender age of just 4 years. She was riding in the car with her Dad when he put in a cassette tape (we're going real old school here guys) and she heard "Amarillo By Morning" for the very first time. In a New York accent she asked "Who is this guy?" In an even thicker New York accent her Dad told her, "George Strait." She innocently asked where this strapping man lived and her Dad replied "Probably Nashville." To which, this adorable and intelligent little brown eyed precious girl said, "That's where I will live one day then."

I hope I didn't throw you off too much with the use of the third person. Because I just want to be clear that those characters I just referenced were indeed my own Dad and the adorable "Little Kristen." It was 14 years later that "Little Kristen" was "Voting Aged Kristen" and took off to Nashville with a box of county music CD's, American Eagle clothes and pictures of her high school friends. The world was huge. The "Welcome to Nashville" sign swept her heart away... she had made it.

Now let's flash forward 11 years, 10 months and 3 days. (That's today). There are no more American Eagle clothes in my closet because if I could fit into them it would be a miracle. The pictures of her high school friends are no longer group shots at prom but at their weddings. And while there are still several CD's in her car the Discman has been replaced (sadly). "Grown-Up Kristen" has a Nashville address, a Nashville license and a Nashville plate on her car.... She made it?

This city is my home. It's where I learned how to be a grown up to the best that I can be (I still see animal shapes in the clouds, eat cereal with my fingers and chase fireflies). I've seen the sun shining bright on her (and burning me) and I've seen her submerged under water. I've seen the sun come up over the Batman Building and I've watched the sun go down over the Cumberland River. I've fallen in love... I've fallen out of love... I've been dumped... Then been dumped twice for good measure... And I'm still waiting on that guy who said "See you on Tuesday" to show up 7 years later. I've made friends that are now family. I learned how to balance a checkbook. How to recite "I'm here for JUST an oil change" over and over when getting my car worked on (I'm so gullible for blinker fluid). I became the person I am today because of everything I have been through while making Nashville my home.

Because of Nashville, I know what giving back and not wanting anything in return means. Because of  Nashville I know that Sonic does exist and they have really fabulous large drinks you can get during Happy Hour. Because of Nashville I know what it's like to shop in Kroger next to a country music singer. Because of Nashville I know what it means to really, really love someone. Because of Nashville I know what it means to really, really miss someone. Because of Nashville I know what it means to want to kill the person who you really, really loved and now really, really miss. Because of Nashville I learned how to be obnoxiously independent and stubborn. Because of Nashville... I know who I am. And more importantly, because of Nashville, I know who I want to be.

That's why I never dreamed that the girl who was voted "Most Likely to Leave" in the senior yearbook because of her obsession with the Volunteer State would ever get the feeling that something was missing. I never knew that the thought would cross my mind one day that perhaps there is something more out there. Perhaps, like I've heard so many times come out of the voice of a guy: "We need to take a break."

No one told me that dreams change. No one told me that we have to be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. There comes a time in every girl's life when she has to take inventory of all that's around her, removing from the equation the friends and familiarity, and decide where she stands.

Well, right now I'm standing. I'm standing tall but winded. A bit exhausted from the journey that got me here to the day that I am writing this. I was so carefree and reckless when I got on that plane at 18. Now as I stare 30 in the eye, I'm more cautious and protected. I don't know at what age life stops being a game like Candy Land and more like Chutes and Ladders. But it does. I didn't get the memo and I didn't circle it in my planner. The fact is that I have a planner that I write diligently in... yet life had other plans. My health had other plans. My heart had other plans. And I never wrote any of them down or circled them in red.

So I write this in my living room tonight as I stare at just a few of the boxes I've brought home to start packing things up. Because I will be saying "goodbye" to Nashville. Goodbye to the life that I know and I've grown accustomed to. Goodbye to that crazed 18 year old girl running to her college campus that August of 2002. And hello to a new life in August of 2014. My life here has been an endless maze of turns and twists and I've decided to take one of the twists and just see what happens. The path will be paved with plenty of frosting, a lot of tissues, definitely several u-turns on wrong-way roads, and faith. But mostly sugar.

When a doctor looks you in the eye and says that you have a 75% chance of getting sick again... you hold tightly onto that 25% and make the most of it. So with that 25% I'm loading up my car and a trailer and I'm going to try something new. And finally, catch my breath. With my inhaler in my hand and my family on either side of me supporting and guiding me. And in regards to my family, my Dad was wrong.

George Strait doesn't live in Nashville. He lives in Texas. So in true Kristen fashion, it's time to get into the car and turn that steering wheel... west.

1 comment:

Tiffany Franqui said...

Dear Kristen,
As an old friend who rocked the 80s with you back in the day I can understand much of your feelings and this post. Life never goes how we think we need it to, but it does give us the changes we need to make.
I don't always get to read your blog, and I don't always comment when I do. This past year has had some similar moments in my family that you have been having in your life. Sometimes it's been a little too close for comfort. But today, I thought was a good day to comment. I guess the reason why, is because I'm curious as to where in tx your moving to. Because life takes some funny twists and turns and I find myself heading to the Dallas area, long term like yourself, around September. Send me a message on Facebook so we can figure out 30 together hopefully in a faraway unknown