how to dress for fall without really trying

Last week at work, I asked a co-worker a completely serious question.

When does fall start here?

October, he said.

So… this is fall?

I made the transition to hot coffee two weeks ago when it started to feel a little cooler in the mornings, only to be disappointed about my lack of ice when the temperature rose to 85 and I had to put my air conditioning back on.

Not cool, Nashville.

I’ve never been one to wax poetic about the changing of seasons, but I’ve always lived in places (well the NORTH) that HAD seasons. And I know that Nashville supposedly has “seasons” and is known for mild winters or something. BUT WHEN DOES IT GET COLD?

People in Nashville dress like it is fall. I always wondered why boots were so common in the South when it’s so damn hot all the time. I’ve seen men and women wearing them with pride for the last two months, regardless of the weather. Now, I understand that this is appropriate because the air conditioning is still on in bars, grocery stores, and my work. This is deceiving, because one can wear boots — or even a cardigan — inside and look seasonally appropriate, only to walk outside and look like a fool. Or maybe that’s just me?

But with dressing for the season and the temperature, I’m at a complete loss. At some point sundresses become awkward, but jeans are too  hot. Boots would be nice, but flip-flops are comfortable. Do I layer for work in “fall” colors, and then don cut-offs on the weekend? Today at the mall, a woman was wearing white jeans. Obviously the Labor day rule doesn’t apply here, but what does?

on any given Sunday

80sjacket

I walked out of my yard, ear phones in and checked my watch. Looking down, I noticed a yellow paper airplane amid the leaves on the sidewalk. It was folded out of legal pad paper, and noticing the flattened PBR can next to it, I wondered if someone had given up on their Sunday study session.

I clicked start.

I started running, admiring my shoes — which looked a little too new  — and started passing walkers and joggers. A boy was pushing a lawn mower around his yard and got stuck at the bottom of the hill, where the grass met the pavement. I ran around him as he struggled to push it back up. 

A college student walked by with a Bob Marley shirt on, bobbing his head to imaginary music. He had a yellow lab trotting next to him without a leash. I ran up on the grass and he whistled so the dog wouldn’t follow. It might have been his PBR.

A girl with blue hair walked by. I think she lives in my building and dates the boy with the piercings and matching candy-colored hair. Maybe they wrote love notes on legal paper and threw them off their balcony.

The streets were suddenly full with parked cars on both sides and church was starting across from the Bi-Rite advertising pork shoulder specials. Students in purple t-shirts and girls in tennis shoes followed their parents while young couples pushed strollers.

So many babies. A mother sat on the steps of her patio in a gated yard on the phone where her toddler in a tie dyed t-shirt bent over in front of her, playing with dirt. His diapered bottom stuck straight up in the air where his head should have been.

I finally got to the bridge, looked over the railing to see the highway below, and turned up the music in my headphones so I could hear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs instead of traffic. I passed an old Nashville couple. The woman had dark hair and glasses with tinted frames that made her look like an owl. Her husband was wearing a gold chain and old Sauconys. He had on one of those 80s windbreakers, the purple kind that TLC used to wear. He hadn’t bothered to zip it all the way, just enough that the teeth clung together at the bottom over his hanging belly.

I crossed the street and started back towards my house, passing a large motor home pulled over in front of the picnic tables outside of the Bi-Rite. The door was propped open and I couldn’t see the inside because there was a blue floral curtain in the way.

I passed a large man in a tight white shirt and gray shorts with a bucket hat on his head. He didn’t move out of the way and I stepped aside and smiled. He did not smile back.

A new father in a flannel shirt walked backwards onto the sidewalk, pulling the stroller around to meet me. I smiled again and he nodded.

I started gaining on the old couple again. Excuse me! Last time, I promise!

“YOU again!”

I held my hands up in apology and kept at it, chest burning, until I saw my street corner. The boy mowing the lawn had switched with his older brother, who was an expert at turning the mower around when it reached the sidewalk, making straight lines that would please his parents.

The paper plane was still there. I picked it up as a daughter stepped out of a van to help her father back into a spot.

I started through my yard again, gulping for air and stopped to loosen my shoelaces.

The paper plane was blank.

lifestyles of the rich and famous

Since I’ve been in Nashville, I have seen several Famous People.

(Yes, I’m including one star of the popular show which shares a name with this city who I have seen THREE TIMES. It’s reaching stalker status. Just kidding.)

Now, at first, this was a really neat thing. I texted friends from home excitedly, sharing my celeb spotting with them as if I was reporting for TMZ. I eventually realized it started to seem like bragging, so I stopped, but I didn’t know how to appropriately react. I never wanted to be That Girl and run over to them asking for a picture or autograph because it didn’t seem appropriate.

Once, at a coffee shop, I saw a Famous Person who used to be on Heroes, but now, yes, is on Nashville. She was clearly there incognito, donning a baseball hat and had her nose buried in her coffee. But as soon as she left the shop, three girls left, running wildly after her, arms outstretched with an iPhone. She smiled, stopped, and posed for a few pictures before leaving.

I can only assume that Famous People do not like to be bothered during their Sunday morning walk, but people here seem divided over their reactions. About half strike a balance between looking and not looking… at least, not obviously. The other half freak out, grab their phones and whisper excitedly, clearly outing the TV star/musician/athlete, etc. Because I am oblivious most of the time, I have a very delayed reaction when I casually run into a recognizable celeb. At work, people will point Famous People out to me, and sometimes look over with a knowing look. You know who that is, don’t you? Crazy, right?

But. Sometimes, I don’t know. I just don’t! I assume this is just like life in LA… everyone has Famous Person Radar and instantly scan a crowd and then Instagrams the top of heads with hastags exclaiming their delight. This picture will then get a thousand likes and will be trending by noon.

Maybe the majority of people who live here are used to all the Famous People, and have continue with their day. Perhaps most of the people with these reactions are transplants or new students. Or, are we as a society, just that celeb-obsessed?

It seems as though I better get used to it, and fast. I have  a feeling I’m about to have another sighting soon, seeing as how a few people in the entertainment business live in my building…

hospitable me.

Apparently, one thing the South is famous for is hospitality. I think we’ve all heard this trope — “everyone is friendly!” “they just stop you on the street to say hello!” etc, etc.

My extended family grew up and settled in various Southern states, so I grew up believing this idea. And, every other time I’ve visited Nashville, I DID feel like people seemed to smile at  me more and make small talk while I was at the cashier. This being said, I also grew up in New England where you aren’t allowed to talk to strangers and when people ask what you are planning to do with those tomatoes at the grocery store, one might get offended and think the question to be a gross intrusion of privacy.

I guess part of me counted on this famous hospitality when we moved into our third floor apartment at the beginning of August. As we trudged up three flights of stairs weighed down with boxes and lamps and dresser drawers, not one neighbor introduced themselves.

“hey. I mean, we are moving in in the middle of the day. these decent people are probably all at work.”

A couple hours later, I saw several people park their cars.

They got out to pay rent at the apartment leasing office.

I looked up, face flushed from carrying things way too heavy for me for way too long, anxious to meet a neighbor or two. Certainly, they are too busy to help, but maybe I could introduce myself…

Nope.

No one stopped, looked, or smiled. Not even the retired rocker that lives on the first floor and went out to his truck once or twice, passing us in the entry way each time.

Since then, I’ve been wary of people being friendly at restaurants and stores.

“Sure, you are being nice NOW but that’s only because your manager is probably watching. This is probably part of your act so I come back.  I bet you wouldn’t stop me if I was moving into your building! I’M ON TO YOU, TRADER JOE’S!”

It’s a little early for me to be so jaded. So, SOUTH. What gives?

get a move on.

No one likes moving. The process of it, I mean. Sure, moving to a new place is exciting — bigger apartments!  natural light! bedrooms with doors! (just me?) — but the actual act of moving is just that. A PROCESS.

Although we’ve been here for about a week, our stuff has not. This experience has caused Poet and me to sleep on the floor for two nights (that did wonders for our post-12 hour drive relationship) and the days since have been spent building, hammering, unpacking, hauling, etc. Have I explored the neighborhood? No. Do I know how to get to my new job? No. I DO however know how to get to the nearest hardware store, Trader Joe’s, coffee shop (with internet, of course) and bar.  So, the essentials.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that I am staring at all of my living room furniture and there are finally pictures (that are framed!) on my walls, this doesn’t feel like home. I’m not sure when exactly it will start to feel that way, but I still feel like I’m on a vacation and any moment I’ll have to check in for my flight back to Charm City.