When Around the Bend Doesn’t Matter

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Middle Tennessee is home. It always has been. Matt and I agreed a long time ago that we wanted to end up here somehow, and after a LOT of rambling around the country chasing Uncle Sam’s dream, we’ve finally managed to get here. While we’ve had the opportunity to live in different kinds of places (El Paso and Richmond, VA are vastly different, let me tell ya) and to visit a lot of places (Washington DC, Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, New York City), both of us are glad to finally be home, couched in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains.

Having lived in Memphis for a few years, I know what it’s like to love a city and to want to claim it as your own. I dearly love Memphis and cherish all the time I spent there. Naturally I wanted to replicate the sentiment when we got back to Nashville, so I immediately set about developing a plan of attack. My mission was simple: find the places I could call my own, the places I would love and frequent. It’s taken awhile for us to get the opportunity to really settle into our exploration, but for the last few weekends we’ve finally gotten the chances I’ve been waiting for. And Nashville has yet to disappoint.

We started with an evening at Ugly Mugs.

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I’d read about this place during my search for potential favorite coffee houses, and it turned out to be pretty cool. Located in the East Nashville neighborhood, it is situated down the street from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and The Wild Cow, a vegetarian restaurant (also super-tasty). Matt and I ordered our coffee (call me boring: I got a pour-over decaf), and Matt chose a drink called The Hoodie, a combination of cinnamon, honey, espresso, and milk. He always orders exactly what I didn’t know I wanted.

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It’s common knowledge that weekends are Live Music nights in Nashville (wait, that’s every night), and Ugly Mugs is part of the party. In the all-too-short time we were there, we heard three really talented acts. If I hadn’t been so excited to be there, I might have paid closer attention to their names, but I was so enthralled by the experience of being exactly where I wanted to be, exactly how I wanted to be there that I completely missed out. Sorry, guys. I’ll catch ya next time.

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For our next excursion, we ventured into yet another neighborhood of note. The Germantown historic district has received a lot of the TLC kind of attention over the last few years, and now it’s a reasonably quiet hamlet nestled in the middle of metro Nashville. I went there, initially, for one reason: The Cupcake Collection. A few months ago I had the chance to sample their strawberry lemonade cupcakes, and man oh man, I couldn’t wait to get my paws on some more.

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This time I tried the plain lemon cupcake, and as I knew it would be, my yearning for spring was fueled by the sour sweetness. Memphis has Muddy’s, a bakery I dearly love, and their cupcakes have been my favorites for years. But The Cupcake Collection gives them a run for their money. Being a cupcake fiend I’m stoked to have something so scrumptious so close.

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As entertaining and delicious as our adventures have been so far, I have to say that the most impressive part of them has been what they’ve shown me about myself and the life I want to live.

When you can honestly say you love your own life, that you wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s, then you know you are truly blessed. And I wouldn’t. I have come to realize over the last few weekends that even though my life may not always be ideal, it is mine, and it is the life I love. Sure, there are things I’d like to change, and things could always be better. But they could also be worse, so that’s something. Looking at the places I’ve been and the opportunities I’ve had, the people I’ve met and love, the people who love me, I cannot imagine any other life but this one. Being able to see things from this perspective has given me a greater appreciation for experience and the lessons to be learned from it. It has inspired me to focus not so much on where I’m going and what’s around the bend, but on how I am going to get there and who is going to go with me. Of course, a cupcake every now and then doesn’t hurt.

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I know I’m not the only person who’s had these ah-ha! moments (at least I hope I’m not). So tell me: where are you going? How will you get there? And who will you take along for the ride?

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