16 Things That Happen When You First Move To Nashville (And Yes, Everyone Can Tell You Aren't From Here)
Immediately after college graduation, I spent a year in Nashville chasing my cliché singer-songwriter dreams, and like anyone who has ever up and moved to a new city, there was a pretty big learning curve. My experience was a tad different because I had the slight advantage of parents who lived there way back in the day (Nashville was where they met, fell in love, had their first three kids, *cue lights and soundtrack to this montage because they're ridiculously cute*). My parents actually worked for Channel 2, so not only was my mom able to show me some of the ropes—which hadn't changed in the two decades since she had lived there—but she could pretty much point to any street corner and tell me every crime that had ever taken place in Nashville's history (go journalism!).
Like all cities, Nashville has its quirks, and takes a little bit of getting used to, especially if you're not from the South. I only spent about ten months there total (if we're not counting my infancy). While the adjustment was slow, it was also definitely sweet, mostly because Nashville is one of the friendliest and most delicious cities you could ever have the privilege of living in. That being said, I will never forget those first few weeks, when all of the following happened:
Everybody Already Knows You're New In Town (And Assumes You're A Songwriter)
The same way we could all scope out freshmen on campus in college, there is some sort of neon light that blares over every newbie's head in Nashville. Maybe it's your complete and utter failure to parallel park on a street. Maybe it's because you didn't know what The Pancake Pantry was. Doesn't matter—somehow you'll stick out like a sore thumb. Also, everyone will just assume you're a songwriter even if you're not because you cannot throw a rock in Nashville without hitting one of us.
And Just In Case They Didn't Know, They Caught You When You Mispronounced "Demonbreun"
IN MY DEFENSE, the GPS mispronounced it first.
You Learn Very, Very Quickly How To Merge At Perilous Speeds
Honesty hour: I barely knew how to drive when I moved to Nashville. But if you want to get anywhere in that city or beyond it without using a freeway, you have to be a million times savvier with backroads than a non-native will ever be.
You Are Both Surprised And Suspicious By How Nice Other Drivers Are
I hail from Northern Virginia, aka, the land of no roadway mercy. When someone let me in on the freeway in Nashville for the first time I almost cried.
Also, Everybody Hugs You, All The Time
They dubbed the "Nashville handshake" an exchange of business cards, but I have learned from many SURPRISE hugs with strangers that this is the real one.
You Learn That "Honky Tonk" Can Be Used As Both A Noun And A Verb
And that any time someone visits you, this is literally all that they want to do.
Possibly Fireball Is The Only Alcohol In The Entire City
I swear, if you said you wanted a shot at a bar, someone just started pouring Fireball like it was synonymous with "shot." And the little airplane bottles of it would just pop up on the sides of the road fresh every morning like daisies. If you don't like cinnamon, GTFO of this city.
You've Always "Just Missed" A Country Star
Either I was accidentally stalking Hayden Panettiere during my time in Nashville, or the city just collectively was making fun of me for getting so upset every time I walked into a bar she had "just been" in. OK, that only happened twice, but the psychological distress is ONGOING.
Everybody Feels Possessed To Tell You About "That One Time" They Saw Taylor Swift
Or a really tall blonde girl. Whatever. Apparently it's a rite of passage that newbies can only dream of.
You Are Overwhelmed By The Seemingly Endless Food Choices
I never, not once, had a single bad meal in Nashville. And it's not just the typical southern fare—any kind of cuisine you could possibly fancy is just plain better there. I exercise like a fiend and I still came home ten pounds heavier (WORTH IT).
You Invest In The World's Most Unflattering But Highly Effective Puffy Winter Coat
I don't think anyone who moves to Nashville is ever prepared for the PERILOUS COLD of their winters. It's not even that terrible on the scale of cold, it's just that you're not expecting it from a southern city, and also I am a wimp.
You Realize That The Guitars Outnumber The Humans
And also that you, as a human, are considered more expendable than someone's guitar.
Music Row Isn't Nearly As Prolific As You Think It Will Be
The first time I moseyed up and down those blocks, I thought that someone would leap out with a cool kid detector and be like, "AHA! I hereby banish you!" but after awhile, I realized that despite all the history that gets made there, it's actually pretty chill. Most of it just looks like a plain old regular street.
People Cannot Resist The Urge To Call You A Yankee
Affectionately (I think). If you don't have an accent, this is automatically your nickname everywhere you go.
Everyone Feels Possessed To Assign You A Character From The Show Nashville
There's no, "Oh, you're such a Samantha!" in Nashville. You're either a Juliette, a Rayna, or a Scarlett (represeeeeent).
Without Any Prompting, You Are Constantly Asked, "Where Are You Actually From?"
Even if you've managed to assimilate to the point where you don't look like a total noob every time you attempt to navigate a roundabout into a one-way street, everyone will know you're not from Nashville. Finding an actual native is like finding a spotted zebra.
This Kind Of Thing Happens To You
Anyone remember that kid who went around using Blink-182 lyrics as pick-up lines? I was one of his first targets, literally FOUR DAYS after I moved to Nashville. I'm the painfully awkward girl at the end of the video sitting outside of the Barnes and Noble on West End, trying not to wet her pants. (Tommy and I are friends now, actually, in case anyone wants to know.)
Images: ABC; Giphy (14)