five points if you get this reference.
five more points if you get that this is misinterpreted…haha.
southern weather – the almost
the everglow – mae
stay away from me – the honorary title
It pours in Nashville, and we’re so sick of rain. We end up staying in the hotel for several hours, running around and looking for entertainment like little kids whose parents have left them for the bar. We go swimming for short bursts at a time, carry around entire pints of ice cream, and take the elevator to the top floor.
We end up back at the room, standing in front of the wide windows and looking out at the city below. Memorial Day has left the streets empty of traffic, save for a few unhurried cars. Slate clouds hang over everything, but a small hole shows us the sun, glowing red and absolutely huge as it sinks into the skyline.
Points of light break the darkness, in forms of stars and lit windows. We want so badly to be out in the city, taking in everything and letting ourselves be a part of its pulse. None of us have ever been here, and we may never be back. It seems such a shame to drive six thousand miles to get to a place that’s immediately wrecked with rain.
But looking out at the city, I start to see how big it is and how there is still so much more than this. It’s easy to get caught up in seizing everything at once, at trying to make the most of this trip because we know it may never happen again. But then you think about all of the other things you’ve yet to do, the people you’ve met to meet, and the moments of your life that are going to matter even more than this. A warm hotel room and a simple skyline look like enough for now, especially with the horizon that big before us.
stolen – dashboard confessional
shelter – ray lamontagne
love wasteland – johnny rocket
There are a lot of buzzwords that you learn when you get older, and one of them is “networking.” It’s a word that I’ve never really appreciated, largely because it sounds like you’re sucking people into a web in order to get farther in life. And let’s face it—that’s how a lot of people look at it.
When we arrive in Little Rock, we are welcomed warmly by a man named Jerry, whom my father worked with over twenty years ago. His wife and seven-year-old grandson eagerly invite us to cool off in their backyard pool, and it’s an offer that we’re happy to accept. Jerry tells me about how he and my father survived a tyrannical boss two years ago, but the one thing he keeps bringing up is the way that my parents let him use one of our cars whenever he was in the area. It was a fairly small gesture from a very long time ago, but it’s something he’s remembered as a source of freedom and compassion. He seems more than happy to return the favor by opening his home to us.
We explore Arkansas food (catfish, hush puppies, and fried okra) with these strangers, but throughout the course of a meal, it feels more like we’re visiting relatives that we don’t get to see very often. My definition of family has continually expanded throughout this trip.
We’re lucky enough to be on the streets of Little Rock for Riverfest, which draws huge crowds each Memorial Day weekend. We talk to dozens of people, none of whom turn down the opportunity to help us with our project. Everyone asks us about our own hometowns and reminds us to be safe and to look out for each other. The best surprise comes when we enter Green Grass, a small grocery store with environmentally-friendly products and two talented musicians. We move towards the back of the room to listen to their set, which grabs our ears immediately. We stay until their last song, and they are more than willing to help us with our project. In return, they ask that we tell our friends about their own project (so if you want to hear what Arkansas sounds like, I’d recommend myspace.com/johnnyrocketmusic). We give them the link to our blog, and they take our addresses and promise to send us some demos. On the way out, one of the people we’ve just met tells me that he knows someone who has worked with To Write Love On Her Arms. I immediately dig through my purse for my copy of their full-page ad in USA Today and hand it to him. “It’s beautiful,” he says, reading over the encouraging words. The ink reminds us that we’re not alone, that we have each other to lean on, and it’s looking especially true today.
When we get back to the house, it’s after ten-thirty. We immediately jump into the pool again, cooling off from the humid night. Cricket and frog songs reverberate around us, and it sounds a lot like the summer noises I’ve grown up with. Something about Arkansas feels very much ours. Something about everything feels very much shared, and we’re very much eager to continue finding it.