This time of year is commonly known in these parts as get-out-of-Portland weather.
My friends were in Mexico a couple of weeks ago.
My boss went to the big island of Hawaii.
My coworker went to Maui.
My other coworker went to San Diego.
It’s gray, cold, and grim out there. So, to keep up with the Joneses, I booked my ticket.
To sunny Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Haven’t heard of it? I’m not surprised. It is on the Cumberland plateau, two hours east of Nashville. It has one blinking traffic light, an elementary school, and a “grocery store” that’s open from Wednesday to Saturday.
I didn’t want to go somewhere exotic, I wanted to spend time with one of my favorite people on the planet. My Nana is my mom’s mom, and we have a special bond. I love hanging out with her and her little dog Nubbin, and we always have a lot of fun.
I was born in Nashville, and even though I moved before my third birthday to the Pacific Northwest, it feels like Tennessee is a part of me, and it’s really calming and relaxing to go visit.
We spent time driving, doing things that I’d imagine I would do if I were Nana’s age. We ran the errands that suck to do alone. And we had fun!
Pleasant Hill is near the booming metropolis (pun intended) of Crossville, Tennessee, where my mom grew up. They have an amazing (no pun intended) playhouse, and I love going to see plays whenever I go. This time, we saw Steel Magnolias, which is just like the movie, except it only occurs in the beauty shop. Then we met up with family to have lunch and talk about how excited they are to come to visit Portland for the big upcoming wedding on New Year’s Eve.
I call this weekend a conscious spend, but between my mom buying my airplane ticket, and Nana paying for absolutely everything while I was there, I’d call it a frugal win, too! I suppose that makes sense. Go visit family if you don’t want to spend a bunch of money.
There are several things that tickle me about being in Tennessee, and I’d like to share them.
- When you turn on your rental car, there will always be gospel music playing. It surprised me the first time, but not the second. I guess there’s a reason there are 19 gospel stations on the radio.
- You must specify that you want your tea unsweetened. And, even if you go to a restaurant that calls itself a “tea room,” you are a weirdo if you ask for hot tea. Even when it’s 34 degrees out. You will feel like a dolt, for sure, but then you will remember that it’s winter, and iced tea is a summer drink.
- You will talk to more strangers than you are expecting. This is the land of southern hospitality, people. So if you don’t feel like being friendly, don’t go out. When you do go out, just be nice and make pleasant conversation.
- Enjoy the churches, the church signs, and the other random religious billboards. One of my favorites, which Nana selectively decides not to see (survival mechanism!) says, “Evolution is real?” and has a quote from Romans.
- Actually, go to church on Sunday. Make sure you tell people who ask why they haven’t seen you before that you are visiting from out of town. They will make you feel exotic. Enjoy this, but remember, you’re really not that exotic.
- You will get constant reminders that you are in a “red” state. Example: if you are driving on the day of the presidential inauguration, and you decide to give up on trying to listen to the coverage, and turn it to a country station, you will hear some sort of joke about how all Obama does is party. You will remember how lucky you are that you live in a place where that sort of thing isn’t just rare, it’s downright unheard of.
- You will appreciate how open-minded people at home are, and that’s reason enough to leave Portland and come back.