The first glimpse I see of Nashville is from a plane window. Rolling hills painted like a colored forest in hues of orange, red, gold, and greens. It’s beautiful.
I step out of the air conditioned airplane and feel the whoosh of the southern air surround me. It’s warm, thick and heavy; humid. It’s a rainy day here so the humidity, even in Fall is strong, especially for me, a southern California girl used to a dry climate.
Waiting for my luggage to slide down the steel ramp, I hear a familiar voice. Turning around, I see my cousin’s wife smiling and waving to me as she makes her way through the crowd, looking eager to give me a hug. It is the first time we meet in person. I am touched by her warmth and generosity of spirit but not surprised. We’ve spoken before several times on the phone and over the past year or so, we’ve gotten to know each other quite well through private messages, which was one of the reasons why I was finally here.
We drive to Brentwood, a suburb ten miles south of Nashville, where my cousin and his family live and where I’ll be staying in my hotel for the next five days. Along the freeway, I notice limestone walls and that all the buildings I see are made of brick. It reminds me of my early childhood when we lived in Virginia. Green belts of wet grass are everywhere, and of course, the trees. Not that there aren’t trees where I live in southern California—I actually live in a national “tree city”, but these trees are just different. These were Nashville trees that densely shaded the hills and came in all sorts of colors, like a fall rainbow or quilt.
It feels surreal being here. I’ve waited twelve years since finding my birth mother to make the pilgrimage to my American homeland. My biological family and ancestors have lived in Nashville for about 200 years. It’s their resting place, home, after arriving in Virginia and the Carolinas from Northern Ireland. Nashville and the South have a deep, rich history and a different culture than I’ve been raised in. I’m eager to know the good and the bad. I want to know the family connection to it all. I want to taste the South, drink in the culture and dance to Music City’s music.
My mind wanders often to the thoughts that I could’ve been raised here if things had gone the way my birth mother had wanted. It’s just another part of my own personal history in my life, the wondering of it all, the what-ifs that linger boldly in my thoughts.
We arrive at my red brick hotel—my cousin waits for me to check-in and freshen up before we drive over to her home where I will meet for the first time, my first cousin and their daughter. We have plans to go to dinner for a real southern treat; Cracker Barrel. My adventure is just beginning…