Nashville to New Folk.
First you need the van. Then you need to fill the van with instruments and camping gear and my whole family. You need travel mugs and guitars and books for reading and maybe a wordsearch and gas in the tank.
Then you need a stop at an old friend's house to get started. After a day of driving, you need to arrive to a city that was once your home. You catch up with friends and reacquaint them with your boys. You need to smile at the being together and give thanks for all those years and all those moves and all those things we've all been through and still we're friends and it feels like we were just together but days ago.
And then a little more driving further south until you see that sign that reads "Nashville." And you have to think of all the friends you know live who here, but are on the road, you wonder which ones are in town and which ones are driving elsewhere down a different road than this one. You pray to see a familiar face. You park the car, you stretch your legs. You wonder at the different plants and trees and flowers in the front yards that grow so green. The beads of sweat remind you how far south you are and, in the stillness of the heat, you miss the prairie wind that most days you curse.
In Nashville you imagine what it would be like to call this place home. There's a buzz, there's something romantic in the air calling dreamers from all over to come here and carve out a space. Nashville. You say, "Maybe. Maybe I could be a part of this place too." And in the next instant you say, "This is where your heart gets broken. This is where dreamers turn into drinkers, so best keep it at arm's distance."
In Nashville there's a little place called "The Bluebird Cafe." You go play the early show. Your family's in the audience. What you chose to wear doesn't ever feel like the right thing to wear, but no matter. You're there to play your songs. You play your songs.
Then the ride ends and they shuffle you out the door.
And as you drive away, you daydream about being from Nashville. One voice is louder than the other and wouldn't it be lovely?
Then it's Arkansas, a campsite with a Coleman stove and playing catch with a football after a dip in the lake. Then it's westward and onward until the "Welcome to Texas" and then just a little further until the land rolls into hills and the brushy beauty of Kerrville welcomes you home.
New Folk. For the second time. The first time you didn't understand, but now you do. You get a second chance to honor what you had. Now you know. And this time, when Dalis invites you to feel at home, you will. Because this time you know what you been given and you know that it's precious and you know that, no matter if you win or not, the whole darn thing is more than you deserve and you do your freaking best.
Because you never know what'll happen next. Nashville to New Folk.
I'll see you out there.