It was the steady fall of snowflakes, sticky and persistent throughout the cold night and the even colder morning — that stripped away the feeling that Nashville was getting away from me. I remembered this chill and these arching maples and oaks groaning with the ice building up on their shimmering bare limbs. I sensed the Earth rotating and her axis tipping and I re-remembered that we are all earthlings — so it’s going to be passable, survivable and what we culturally agree to when we say “We’re fine.”
It’s been a long time since I believed anyone I encountered was fine in the way I want to be when I say “I am fine”, but I acknowledge that this custom is a way to tamp down any genuine curiosity and to keep our dysfunctions and foibles unaddressed.
Yet, as of late, I have noticed that the traffic snarls caused by alien looking diggers and scrapers fringed with orange cones, the rental rates giving our young ones the benz and the real disorientation caused by the rapidly transforming streetscapes have been pushing Nashvillians to deeply question whether we, as a people, on any given day, are fine with the rate and direction of growth happening in our City.
A quick aside to define my terms – “A Nashvillian is a person who is here in Nashville.” No pretensions or stipulations for my part, —I used to be a Santa Barbaran in a previous life. I moved. I am a Nashvillian. Location is everything. We are all touched by the weather, the traffic and the price of groceries … and we are all here together —so while I don’t speak for Nashvillians, I am talking about them.
We are all in a spot where change is underfoot. Folks who were out of work are working. Some came here to work but don’t know where to eat. Kids are going to schools that have more kids than before. Homesteads are being repealed and replaced quicker than Obamacare. Dingy is turning into fresh and fancy and money is changing hands everywhere you look.
The ruddy faces of our on-again, off-again winter are brown and pink and ebony and carmel. Language is mostly an English patois but the accents and the emphasis moves along a longer and more colorful continuum than “Yall come back now, ya hear?” Southerness is a bit on the decline and tensions between whites and non-whites is more evident and more urgent.
We all feel the the earth moving but have yet to work out a clear agreement on what is important or even state a common unit of measure. Will we account for the quality of our lives or the quantity of Benjamins? Will our children read or will they Snapchat? Will we figure out how to guarantee dignity for all people or will we guarantee return on investment to the investors? Values have not been debated and no one has voted and we keep stumbling forward at an ever quicker pace.
Maybe the euphoric swooning and climbing makes us feel like we are getting somewhere — I don’t know. Part of me is not feeling so good and I am going to take a minute and catch my breath. I need to step outside and clear my head. Hey y’all, it’s snowing out here.