With a sizable percentage of people under 40 having moved here in the past three years from some other place, I am one of the increasingly smallish number of youngish people who can say I am from Nashville.
Of course, as real Nashvillians will tell me, I am NOT actually from here. I am FROM Mt. Juliet, which is 20 miles to the east of downtown, in Wilson County. Mt. Juliet – known now for rapidly growing mixed-use residential-commercial developments like Providence and Del Webb – is where my parents moved when I was 6 and my brother was 3.
In May, I will have had a 615 area code for 31 years.
My parents are about to trade theirs in. They are putting their house on the market, and they plan to move to Auburn, Ala., when it sells. My mom’s family is in Auburn, and she is going home.
The emotion I’ve felt about this has caught me by surprise.
I see Mom and Dad all the time, but I haven’t been to their house in maybe a year, even though it’s just a half hour from town. They long ago converted my old bedroom to a guest room, and they’ve been carting out my old stuff (and often hauling it to my house, where it gets stuffed into my garage) for years.
Nonetheless, their house is important to me.
It’s where I grew up and where I lived when I went to elementary school, got teased in junior high, and entertained young romances with boys my dad didn’t like.
When I lived there, I worked in a grocery store a half mile away, and practiced for track meets on hills in our subdivision. My brother and I buried a pet hamster in the yard behind the boat shed. My best friend, Jill, who lived next door, co-starred in the movies we staged in the treehouse my dad built between our back yards.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I remember sitting in the boat shed, writing in my journal about what it was like to have a mom who worked all the time. I’ve re-read that journal as an adult, and wondered if my daughter has had similar feelings.
My parents were those parents who let all the other kids hang out at our house – on snow days, weekends, after school. We had countless sleepovers there, even co-Ed ones – which seems unbelievable looking back on it. My brother once caught me making out with a boyfriend I was supposed to be “watching a movie” with.
That house is where I stayed up late working on school projects I think I was more into that the teachers sometimes were, where my mom would bring me brownies to keep me going past bedtime on my type-A schoolwork binges.
That house is where my dad threw karaoke parties on our deck and cast fishing line in the living room, trying out new spinner bait while watching Bill Dance on television.
It’s where I stayed the night before my wedding, after running Mom’s car over a curb and puncturing her tire and calling in the groomsmen to fix it for me.
I lived in California when I was first married. When I got pregnant, I moved back to Tennessee and built a house in Spring Hill. While it was under construction I lived with my parents in that house and I remember feeling that I looked like a pregnant teenager when we went places together.
That house is where I folded 1,001 paper cranes for my wedding (origami cranes mean good luck), and it’s where I immediately drove 10 years later when my husband and I first began our divorce.
It feels self-indulgent to think this much about someone else’s house, especially when I haven’t lived there in 20 years. It also feels terribly unsophisticated to more or less be living in my hometown at the age of almost-37, behaving melodramatically because my mom and dad are moving to another state.
But I do have a history in that house, and I guess it isn’t surprising that I’m mourning it.
Sometimes we grow up before we fully move on.