Keegan and I flew to Nashville last Friday for Christmas. This marked my 5th trip home and one of my favorites for sure. I reached a few friends beforehand and made plans accordingly. And I left enough room in our plans for spontaneity, which totally worked out in our favor. From Nashville to Kentucky, this vaca was awesome.

But let’s back up for just a moment. Two nights before we left, Christine, Fatima, Keegan and I went out for dinner and drinks. I started to feel a cold setting in, so the following day I worked from home and tried my best to get stuff done. I was about to be gone from work in 11 days and needed to tie up some loose ends.

I took so many meds (Probiotics, Emergen-C, Cepacol, Ibuprofen, Benadryl and OJ) that I threw up on the way to the airport Friday morning. It was a rough start, but I thought I was getting better. Turns out, things would get worse before they got better, but it wasn’t about to slow me down.

I passed out on the airplane despite paying for a $9 breakfast sandwich I barely touched. I was just grateful to make our flight–we cut it closer than ever before this time!! Our friend Kooch was coincidentally on the plane, so that made for an interesting flight. And to top it all off, I made a new friend on the plane! We’ll see if things pan out or not, but it’s looking pretty likely that’ll we get together soon for drinks in Greeley.

So we landed in Nashville around noon last Friday and headed straight to Monell’s in Berry Hill with my Mom. Next, we checked out the kitties at my favorite pet shop/rescue: The Cat Shoppe/Dog Store. Then, we got groceries for Thanksgiving and checked out Kelsey Montague’s What Lifts You mural in the Gulch, which I’ve been wanting to see for forever. And last but not least, we drove past Mercury Courts where I used to work, to see if the apartments had sold. Luckily, they still stand! This property holds a special place in my heart. I don’t know where else some of those folks would live if it wasn’t for Urban Housing.

That evening, Keegan and I rode to Rose Pepper with Erika before he met his friends on the east side. We all met up later at Three Crow, and it was nice to catch up with Gabe, Lauren and Chris for the first time in months. Between the margs and the bushwackers, our first night went pretty well. Plus I also enjoyed catching up with my Mom and Pookie and binge-watching HGTV.

 

 

The following morning, Dad picked us up for our trip to Kentucky. We grabbed Starbucks on the way out. The whole purpose of this Nashville trip was to see my Granny’s grave and to go through her old belongings. I slept most of the way to Kentucky, sick as a dog at 7 in the morning. I believe we arrived by 10:30. We saw the grave and all the different places my Dad grew up. I hadn’t seen my deceased Grandma Laws’ house in at least 10 years. I couldn’t believe how far out in the sticks it was; we were truly in the middle of nowhere near Wingo, Sedalia and Mayfield, Kentucky.

Afterwards, we ate at Majestic Pizza and took a sporadic detour to Land Between the Lakes. Dad hadn’t been to Hematite Lake since he was a kid; I don’t think we’d ever been there at all. Pretty sure we went to LBTL at least once, but I can’t remember where specifically. Anyhoo, it was gorgeous, dreary and chilly and pretty with a waterfall kinda thing, mushrooms and stepping stones that led directly into the water. I’m so glad we had room in the day to do this. I didn’t expect to see a state park this trip, especially not in Kentucky!!

 

 

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Keegan and I had a few hours between returning from Kentucky and Clint and Casi’s party that evening. We sorted through a large stack of my Granny’s photos. This was emotionally draining but needed to happen. She had a ton of pics plus a huge set of fine china and quite a few framed embroidered pieces of art, not including my great-grandmother’s paintings of birds and flowers. In addition, my Dad held onto her quilt, two crock pots and dish towels. By the end of the weekend, we sorted through most everything, and Dad has since packed up all the stuff these last few days. I eagerly await for several large boxes to appear on my doorstep soon.

 

 

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The party was awesome. It felt like old times, and this was probably my favorite night of the trip. I saw a few friends I hadn’t seen in several years (Jennae, Lakina and Alpha) and went back and forth between the smoky basement and the living room where Casi and Amber were hanging out, since Casi is pregnant and making healthy choices, unlike the rest of us.

We stuck around for like 5 hours before I started having coughing fits again from the smoke. Chris was nice enough to give us a ride home, so my Dad didn’t have to retrieve us. The night flew by so fast; I’d give anything to have more nights like that more often. I was so grateful to catch up with Jessica, Casi, Amber and everyone else. Clint’s made from scratch arcade game was effing amazing. It looked so professional, I honestly couldn’t believe he built the whole thing by himself!

The next day, Mom took us to Joe’s Crab Shack for Christmas Eve. Then we rode with Shelly and Grandma to Kohl’s in Smyrna. We spent the remainder of the night at Dad’s house shooting the shit and hanging out.

Christmas Day was sadly the worst day of my cold. As soon as we started eating lunch, I became full pretty quickly and passed out almost instantly from the carb overload. I didn’t take any Mucinex that morning, (which I had been drinking almost religiously for three days) and it caught up with me all at once. I slept for 45 minutes at my Grandma’s house and left to keep on sleeping at my Dad’s. I was glad to eat with my family and exchange gifts, but I definitely didn’t mean to sleep half the afternoon away. I felt bad about that, but I truly couldn’t help it.

In any case, I was glad to spend time with the fam. I loved my sweater socks and thought it was hilarious that my Grandma and I each bought a pair for each other, plus the pair I bought my Mom matches my Grandma’s. My aunt bought us a social media board game and my brother got us the best gingerbread cookies ever. And did I mention my Dad made his famous fudge I love so much? All this isn’t even counting the herb kits from Keegan’s mom or the Corksicle from Julia, the first item I’ve ever owned from Oprah’s Favorite Things. It twas a nice Christmas, despite my flu-like symptoms.

Christmas night we laid low at my Dad’s house, nursing our colds on the blow-up mattress in the living room while we watched the local news and the Grinch. I wouldn’t have it any other way; totes digging these low-key Christmas hangs.

 

 

Tuesday came out of nowhere, and suddenly we reached our last full day in Nashville. It was my brother’s birthday, which I totally forgot to tell him “Happy Birthday” until that afternoon and felt awful for spacing it. I should’ve remembered, but such is life.

I met Nichole and Tika for breakfast at First Watch, which was pretty good to be honest. Then I met Candi for lunch and felt especially grateful to kick it with my old friend, Nikki Flowers! I hadn’t seen this girl in several years; I loved catching up without skipping a beat. Her friendship means a lot to me.

 

 

Nikki gave us a ride to my Mom’s, and apparently they only live a mile apart from each other. Keegan and I still had the entire afternoon to do whatever, so we decided on Istanbul and the lights at Opryland. This was especially sentimental to me. We had our very first date at the hotel, and we had time to see Seven Oaks on the way, which is where we got engaged three years ago.

While Mom was taking care of something in the car, Keegan and I got out for a few minutes and walked to where we got engaged. We used to take Buddy to this park all the time. Seven Oaks was known to the locals as the disc golf park, but to us it was the place we let Buddy off his leash so he could run down the hill. It was so bittersweet returning to this spot. The sunset was beautiful as we stared at the sprawling landscape with it’s bare trees. We took it all in for 5 minutes and left.

As we were leaving the neighborhood, we passed my friend I tried to meet with Friday night. She acted like she would try to make it to Three Crow and completely blew us off. Seeing her car turn onto our old street gave me all the feels. This marked the weirdest coincidence of the trip for sure. When we passed my Dad’s best friend’s house in Kentucky without stopping I thought,

It’s so strange and sad that he has no idea how close we are to him right now. I wonder what he’s doing in there. Watching tv? Drinking a beer? Spending time with his family? He’ll never know we passed his house today.

Same goes for this person. I would’ve never expected to see her on the road a few days after she didn’t show up to Three Crow. No explanation, no text, nothing. It wouldn’t be so hurtful if I hadn’t seen her tagged in pics going out the same night I thought we were hanging out, but such is life I suppose. No one else’s life revolves around me, even when I’m rarely in town anymore. I’ve reached out to this friend despite my reservations. Life for me is a constant battle between the ego and my dignity. And even though I still received no response, at least I can say I tried. It’s not on me anymore to keep making the effort. What’s important to remember are the friends that tend to meet me halfway; it’s the friends like Nikki that show up when you least expect it that are important to hold onto.

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Our meal at Istanbul was honestly mediocre af. I wondered if the server was on pills at one point. She took forever to take our order, and the place was totally empty. The Naan for the hummus wasn’t warm at all and neither was my soup. Luckily the Kuzi Platter came through, and that tender lamb of leg tasted just as I remembered.

The lights at Opryland were nothing short of beautiful. This made up for me telling my Mom how great Istanbul’s food was. My Mom hadn’t seen the lights since she went with me on a field trip in the first grade, so it was nice to reintroduce her to something I’m so fond of. I’m glad Keegan remembered where the path was that takes you from the free parking lot to the majestic hotel. I never know if we’ll be home for Christmas or not, so seeing the lights for the first time in 4 years meant the world to me.

 

 

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We stayed up late watching TV that night before we headed to the airport the following morning. This trip was awesome in terms of having free time and making sporadic plans. I normally book myself to the point I’m stressing out, but this trip allowed me to spend extra time with family, which I super appreciated. I enjoyed our trip to Kentucky, seeing the grave and gaining the closure I so desperately needed.

I hated being home under such sad circumstances, though. And being sick on Christmas was no bueno. I felt so weak and tired and congested. And leaving on questionable grounds with my friend made me feel empty and depressed. I read a few statuses this morning that made me feel better, though. My heart is still open to this friend, although I don’t think I’ll be putting in much effort any longer.

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I’m not entirely sure what I learned from this trip, besides maintaining my self-preservation and dedicating my time to those that matter most. I’m sure a few additional epiphanies will surface in upcoming weeks.

Keegan and I had a layover in Vegas before we backtracked to Denver. My poor husband purchased my Pandora bead online as a Christmas gift even though I strongly advised him to go to Jared in Loveland. My bracelet is from the Essence Collection, and the bead he purchased didn’t fit. All that’s to say, we found a Pandora store in the airport and remedied the bead issue. My new bead symbolizes passion, and I love it! I also purchased two other beads about a month ago: Balance for my mental health and peace for my Granny. Now my bracelet looks amazing with more than just two beads on it.

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Overall we had a great trip. It was eye-opening to say the least, and I owe it all to my Granny. I kept in mind as I was hanging with friends and family, “This wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for her”. I wouldn’t have made a potential new friend on the plane if it wasn’t for her. I wouldn’t have gotten to see Pookie, my Mom’s 15 year old cat, if it wasn’t for her. I cherished every moment despite a few heart-breaking realizations. Looking forward to reigning in a new year soon with my hubby and friends! I hope everyone from Colorado to Tennessee has an awesome evening, as well. Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book; make it a good one!!

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