Seven and a half years ago I married my husband. Around that same time I found myself in another love affair: with Printer’s Alley.
I began going down to the Alley with my husband, who played a regular jam night on Tuesday nights in one of the bars there. I quickly made many friends and it didn’t take long for me to declare it my “home away from home.” Especially once I started working in the bar myself.
Soon I knew more people at the bar and in the Alley than my husband did, and he had been going there for over 10 years!
We briefly considered buying a bar in the Alley ourselves. We had a business plan and my husband even went to meet with investors in Vegas. It was during that time that I really delved into the history of the Printer’s Alley. I spent hours on end at the Nashville Public Library trying to figure out what had made up the whole of Printer’s Alley through the decades. I went as far back as I could without having to going to microfilm.
It was fascinating to me. What was once printing shops and furniture stores eventually turned into speakeasies and bars and dinner theaters. Prohibition happened but the alcohol continued to flow. There were dancing girls and so much neon that some called it the Vegas strip of the South. The sordid history of Printer’s Alley excited me. Presidents walked alongside the mafia. Rumors of Jesse James hiding out made me sit glassy eyed, trying to imagine those days. (I once talked about to writing a book about the history of Printer’s Alley, as I don’t believe one exists at all.)
I soon felt that as an employee in the Alley, I had joined some sort of a special club. A club that carried a little bit of mystique, and a whole lot of family-like support. The most amazing thing to me about Printer’s Alley is how everyone looks out for each other.
It angered me – it still angers me today – how people try to say the Alley is dangerous. When I hear of people telling others, “Oh don’t go there, its dangerous.” it makes my blood boil. I’ll take Printer’s Alley over Broadway any day of the week. I feel so safe there, as the door people and the regulars all look out for each other as well as for our guests. Oh that’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of crime! But the Alley always comes back. Always. It has a resiliency that I find inspiring.
Yesterday, though, the Tennessean ran an article about how a boutique hotel is planning to come in and take out over half of what is today Printer’s Alley. The Alley is already half the size it was back in it’s golden days. And to take out half of what’s left might as well be the final stab in the heart. That final blow. Printer’s Alley will really be no more than a footnote in a history book. Maybe a historical marker some day.
I have had plenty of time to process this. And part of me wonders if it’s not just time. Time to start the new chapter in life, whatever that may be. Change is inevitable, and deep down there’s a part of me that’s excited to see what is to come. Like I said, that area used to be print shops and furniture stores. Perhaps it’s time for it to turn into a hotel. Its sins will be washed away in billions of dollars of “progress.” The Alley family will move on to other things. Perhaps it’s just time…
…but even as I say that, and I look ahead towards other adventures of my future, I feel this deep, deep sadness in my heart. I looked through old pictures of the alley in the 60′s and 70′s and I read about it’s history from 30′s and 40′s, my heart aches a little. Because even as its sins are washed away, its history will be too. Printer’s Alley will no longer exist. Not really.
I can’t say that I believe in reincarnation, but if I did or if it does exist, I sometimes wonder if I didn’t previously walk the Alley. In what form, I have no idea. But I feel this crazy connection with that little piece of Music City. I find myself grieving the thought of it’s loss like it’s an old friend.
Progress is inevitable. And in many cases I welcome it. But I have a deep fear that the Nashville that I have grown to love so much is starting to disappear. The small-town feel and heart is being lost to money, under the guise of growth. For every list we make the top of — the “It” city they say — we lose a little bit of our uniqueness. Because as exciting as it is to be seen for the amazing city that we are, we feel the need to step up and do even better and even bigger. In this race to stay at the top, we’re starting to lose our soul. We’re starting to lose our history.
A page has been started on Facebook to try to gather people to fight this change that could potentially be coming to the Alley soon. As I pointed out in several cases online, everything right now is “under contract” and not “closed”. For anyone who has bought and sold property in the last year, you know how vastly different those two statements are. This is NOT a done deal.
No matter what happens, I am grateful for the time I’ve had in Printer’s Alley. The friendships I made there will without a doubt last for years to come — many for the rest of my life. Every person has left a mark on my heart.
I have learned a lot in my time in Printer’s Alley. I met countless people from all around the world. I learned about different cultures and human nature. I learned how to think faster on my feet and to figure change in my head versus using a calculator. I learned every job is worth doing well, and that no job is too small. But more than anything, I learned more about myself. Maybe I will still write that book about the Alley some day. We will see. But I do know that I have grown so much in the last 7 years, and THAT is something no boutique hotel can take from me.
Let’s face it, we live in a craaaaazy world. I know I spend more time feeling overwhelmed with to do lists, places to be, etc. than I care to admit. Sometimes the best thing I can do is slow down and take some me-time to reset.
This is why I loved How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World by Sophia Stuart. It’s like the ultimate escape in and of itself, even as it gives you ideas of ways to step away from the chatter and insanity of life.
The book kicks off with simple, beautiful photos you can get lost it. It then flows into tips on how to simplify life, or at least make it more bearable. It ends with ways to unplug entirely. It even gives lists of great books, movies and music to help with unplugging.
This book will be beside my bed as my little get-away before bed and as a reminder to take a moment to breathe. It would make a great gift to anyone going through a tough time. I loved it! And I think others will, too.
I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for review purposes.
I was not financially compensated for this post. I received the book from Hay House for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
1. I love coffee. I’ve finally 100% embraced this and refuse to apologize for it. Some people go get pedicures. Some people love massages. Some just go shop for whatever. MY “get away” is to get a good cup of coffee. It’s just my thing, and I love to share Instagrams from my coffee breaks. Sorry… not sorry.
2. I am a Christian. Even more specifically, I am a Catholic. Somewhere along the way, this became a bad thing? At least that’s the vibe I’ve been getting lately from media. It’s no longer in fashion to be a Christian. In fact, if you’re a Christian you’re probably a conservative idiot who hates everyone that doesn’t see your way. I mean, that’s pretty much is what I’ve been getting from the chatter and noise in the media. (See my blog post from a few days ago.) Am I exaggerating? Yes, of course I am. I know this. But you know what? Sorry, not sorry. I’m a Christian, and I’m not going to deny God. If you decide to dismiss me and judge me on that then… well. That’s fine. But you’re missing out on knowing a pretty cool lady. :)
3. I like to take selfies and pictures of my cats and post them to Instagram. Cliché as hell, and I know it. But its not the only pictures I post. I just happen to be guilty-as-charged that I take these types of photos and… sorry! Not sorry! Going to just keep taking them as I wish.
4. I am a driving snob. I like going through old posts via the app Timehop. And I’ve found I rant about drivers a LOT. Usually has to do with lack of turn signal use, blowing off yield signs, texting while driving, cutting people off, and tailgating or driving way below the speed limit. Oh and just cruising down the turn lane. Look, I make my mistakes while driving. I’m not perfect. But when I see someone blatantly blow off basic driving laws… I get pissed off. Because vehicles are not toys. They kill people. So… sorry, not sorry. I take driving very seriously, and I really wish others did, too.
5. I am an Aggie. Not an Aggie fan. An Aggie. There is a difference. I don’t stand proud of Texas A&M University based only on the football team. I don’t wave my Aggie flag as just a fan. I have my degree on the wall, and my ring on my finger. Bash my school based on football, you’ll get an ear full. I’m proud of the education my school offers, the research its doing constantly, it’s sports — all sports — successes, and that impossible to explain family feel that you get as an Aggie. So, sorry, not sorry if I quickly correct you when you say, “Oh you’re an Aggie fan.” No, I AM an Aggie. There is a huge difference.
Ever have a day that starts out all laid back. Turns really weird. Then ends with you just feeling… rejuvenated? I just did yesterday.
My husband and I have started a little tradition of going out for coffee on Sunday after he comes home off the road. We have coffee and catch up from our weekend apart. I look forward to it all weekend, and its become a favorite part of my whole week.
This weekend, due to July 4th and my working at the bar when my husband had to be at the bus, my husband drove himself to meet the band on his motorcycle. So, I didn’t have to pick him up today, but I was up and ready to go when he got home. I grabbed my phone, wallet and helmet and we were off! We rode over to Starbucks, ordered some iced coffee, I grabbed a breakfast item, and we sat down outside to catch up.
After about an hour, we decided to hop on the bike and take a ride around the lake. It was a perfect lake day, and we commented that as much as were were enjoying the bike, we wished we were on the lake instead of on the side. But, hey, baby steps. We get more use out of the motorcycle than we would a boat, so be thankful for what we have going!
We road over to one of our favorite recreation areas, and sat at a picnic table just enjoying the breeze for awhile. After awhile, we decided we’d head home. We were going to grill hot dogs, and just have a chill evening at home. I asked my husband to stop at the restrooms on our way out of the recreation area, so we headed over there.
When I came back and got on the bike, we went a couple feet and my husband stopped. He told me to get off, as he looked at the back tire. Something was wrong.
Sure enough… flat tire.
A park ranger drove by not long after our discovery, and we flagged him down to see if he had an air compressor. Nope. No go. It was time to start calling for help.
If there is anything you need to know about Nashville, its that we all look out for each other. This wasn’t so much a case of “find out who your friends are” as “which one to do we call first?” It took no time at all for us to have help on the way. While we waited, my husband said he was going to roll the bike forward and see if we could see a nail or anything in the tire. I sat down on the ground, and he didn’t even have to push it six inches and I saw it…
The discovery of a nail told us right away, just adding air was going to do no good. We were going to have to trailer the bike home. So while we waited, we discussed how to handle it. We agreed I’d stay with the bike, and my husband would go get our truck and trailer and come back. When our friend arrived we loaded the helmets and bag with my wallet (I at least kept my driver’s license so I had ID on me) in the backseat and my husband left to get the truck.
I could definitely think of a worse place to be stranded! Families were everywhere, so I felt 100% safe the entire time. I called my Mom and caught up with my parents for awhile. I made friends with a dog that was hanging out with his family at the park. I also walked around. A lot. According to my pedometer, did about a mile and a half just wandering around the park. It felt great to do! I want to get more exercise these days, and I grasped the opportunity with both hands.
My cell phone was almost dead (I wasn’t planning on being stuck, so I didn’t exactly try to make the battery last earlier in the day!), so I turned my data off after awhile to try to save what little life it still had. It was kind of amazing to not be able to look at Twitter or Facebook. To not be able to post pictures to Instagram. I found myself missing having a good paperback book to read, though.
It gave me a chance to just… be. I watched the water and felt the breeze. I enjoyed watching the families have fun together, and it just reminded there is still a beautiful simplicity to life. A simplicity that gets lost in technology and social media. A simplicity that gets lost in deadlines and trying to make the almighty dollar.
What we expected to take less than an hour actually took closer to an hour and a half. After all my walking, I was starting to get hungry. My coffee and breakfast square was long gone. I also was keeping an eye on a couple guys that kept hanging out by a truck beside the bike. They were probably just hanging out visiting, but I was paranoid. And did I mention hungry? Hunger makes me a little irritable sometimes. And apparently ups my level of distrust.
I was super happy to see our truck coming my way, trailer on the back. I walked over and we started to load the bike up right away. We were just ready to get this done. Of course as we start that, the two guys who were hanging by the bike had to leave. Right then. My husband had to take the ramp off the trailer so one could back his truck out of the spot they’d been just hanging out in for the last half hour. It very much added to my distrust, but what really surprised me? I was only mildly annoyed. Normally I’d get super annoyed going, “Seriously? You have to leave RIGHT NOW? Can’t wait five minutes?” But instead I was so relaxed from my afternoon! I was able to just let it go within moments.
It didn’t take long and we were loaded up and ready to go, which also helped me forget any annoyance. Our adventure for the day came to a positive end (so far.)
On our way out, we saw a deer. I like to think nature gave us a nice little, “Thanks for visiting!” in that.
We both agreed, we were too hungry to go home and cook. If I’d have gone straight home, I’d have probably just sat down with a bag of potato chips and scarfed them down. Pretty much negating all my exercise.
So we ended up going to Buffalo Wild Wings (a favorite of ours) for dinner. Hot wings and beer on the patio! Which I guess still negated my exercise. But I didn’t care.
When we got to the restaurant, my phone was at 3% charge. We cut it a bit close there! By the time we left, my phone had completely died. I felt so strange and yet also so… free. I had no purse. My phone was dead. I was literally walking around with nothing but my driver’s license.
Granted had I not been with my husband, I’d have been pretty freaked out and felt very vulnerable. I strive to never let myself be in such a position. But as it was, given the circumstances, I just felt so… light! I liked it.
As we we walked out, we ran into a friend we hadn’t seen in awhile and got a chance to catch up for awhile. I marveled at the friendships we have. On our way home, we both agreed we were exhausted. Full stomachs, the stress of the “adventure” we were sent on by a carelessly dropped nail, the summer heat, and the peace of feeling so thankful for friends we can rely on left us feeling very content and peaceful.
Oh sure, I’m not happy that we have to go into the expense of the tire being fixed. No one likes something like that. And it threw a wrench into our day’s plans. But in the end, I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. I’m taking this Sunday Adventure as a lesson in simplicity, friendship, and faith. Consider it a lesson very well learned.
You would be amazed by how many blog posts I’ve started and never posted in the last week. Some are completely written and ready to go. Others are nothing more than an intro. The one thing they all have in common though, is that they will never see the light of day.
See, writing is a form of therapy for me. And I often write when I’m upset about something. I spent much of the last week in a funk, and I’ve tried to convey my reasons for it in writing. I ultimately get frustrated, because I know what I’m writing will probably become fodder for people to argue and perhaps flame me. I enjoy levelheaded debates, but they are hard to find that on the Internet these days.
So instead, I write for myself. And then leave it as a draft, never to be posted publicly. Perhaps I should put my opinion out there on some things, and maybe — just maybe — someone will take a moment to think of things from a different point of view. But I found one thing to be very evident lately: there is a recurring belief that if you don’t agree with someone you’re clearly against them. I think that as a result of that, people are really quick to stand extra firm on how they feel, and will arbitrarily strike out against anyone who might have a different point of view. As a result of such strikes, I spent much of the last week licking my own wounds. Wounds made by words that were never meant to be aimed straight at me but that struck me hard. I have found myself pulling away from social media in general because of this.
I don’t mind other beliefs. I think that’s what makes the world go around. I especially think the differing of beliefs is one of the most amazing things about being an American. You have freedom of speech. You have freedom to be who you want to be. You have freedom to figure out a way to make things better.
What I do mind are broad sweeping prosecution of people who think differently. Just because someone thinks differently from you does not mean they are against you. I have a lot of friends who have vastly different approaches to life, love, religion, politics, etc. I think those perspectives are what make them uniquely them, and I’m willing to listen and accept them for the unique, beautiful person that they are.
Oh I’m not perfect. I’ve made my own statements out of frustration that come out as “broad sweeping prosecution” of others. And for that I apologize. I can’t promise it’ll never happen again, but I’m sure going to be more aware of it. Because at the end of the day, we are all in this messed up world together. And I, for one, have no interest in spending my days angry or feeling hurt, nor do I want to be the cause of that for others.
Thursday, my husband and I found ourselves with the whole day to ourselves. We could do anything we wanted to do.
So we jumped on the motorcycle and took off… literally with no destination in mind. We headed out north of Nashville, and we just started driving down roads. At one point when we stopped my husband said he was just angling back towards town, but we didn’t really have any idea where we were.
My favorite road was “Pickle Knight Rd” and I literally laughed out loud at that name. But it was so freeing to just ride. Sometimes we found ourselves on busier highways, but mostly we were all on our own on a small blacktop angling up or down mountain ridges.
We stopped at a gas station for “lunch.” I grabbed a club sandwich and sweet tea. My husband grabbed some of those warm taquito things you see at gas stations and a sweet tea. We split a bag of potato chips. We just stood by the bike and munched away, talking about our ride so far. I have to say it was one of the most fun lunches I’ve had in awhile!
Our day ended as daylight was running out, and my legs were hurting from riding. (I have long legs, so sometimes riding can end up with me having cramped up legs after awhile.) We went home and grilled out, putting the perfect bow on a relaxing day off together.
Below is a video I took as we went down one of our favorite little roads in Middle Tennessee. You will want to mute the sound because its all just wind noise, but if you look really close, you can see the lightening bugs dancing near the treeline. It was kinda magical!