I'm not gunna lie, I've seen Hostel, the horror movie about- you guessed it- college kids at a hostel, who get kidnapped and brutally murdered. It was honestly the only thing running through my mind as we made the short walk from lunch to the hostel door. It faced the river, on the back of an industrial building surrounded by other similar buildings. With the sun on our shoulders and the crisp wind blowing our hair, we pulled open the double doors and walked through with our purses held tight to our sides and our heads held high.
It was completely different than we expected.
There were people everywhere, of every race and language. It was bright and wide open, clean and inviting. There was a piano, a fuseball table, a TV, couches, even a beer fridge. That was definitely the selling point for us.
The check-in process took forever, but man was it entertaining. You see, Rachelle and I have this thing where we get real sarcastic and witty, and we play off of each other like we're being paid to be funny. Maybe I'm giving us a little too much credit, but the check-in guy just did not know what to do with us. I mean, we had to sign a contract that said we wouldn't bring any ferrets into the room. Really? What did he expect? After laughing so hard our cheeks hurt, and being told that we were "really cool" we made our way out to the car to grab our very heavy bags and go back to our room.
The rest of the building was just as surprising as the foyer. The walls were plain cement, the halls cold and drafty. But the elevator was made of glass and therefore completely open. The fourth floor where our room was located was simply decorated, each room named after a famous country star. And wouldn't you know it, our room was Alabama. The soundtrack to our entire trip thus far. It felt like we were right where we were meant to be. And though the hostel was definitely our last resort, due to the fact that we couldn't afford/find any other hotels, we were slowly beginning to realize that it would be our best memory of the whole trip.
Our plans for that Thursday evening involved going to an album release party for Ashley Monroe, and just in case you don't know who she is, she's part of the band Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert. Yeah, we were excited. Of course, the night was cold, so we dressed in our long sleeve shirts bought specifically for the trip, and coats that, despite having been worn almost every day, still felt like too much clothing, and walked out of the room to come face to face with our "neighbors" across the hall. We exchanged names, talked a bit about where we were from and where we were going, and went on our way.
Although the bar was far, and it was cold, we decided to walk. Bad idea. It wasn't too bad on the way there, with the sun just dipping below the buildings. But on the way back? It was freezing. So cold that our jaws hurt from clenching and our backs ached from tensing. So cold that we practically ran two miles back to Broadway street, which is probably more than any of us have ran at one time. We ducked into the first bar we came across and ordered our drinks extra strong just to get us warm. In no time, we were back to feeling our fingers and toes. And the music.
The bar hopping commenced and in the process we ran into Utah and a couple of other people we had met the previous night. Oh, and the guy who checked us in and thought we were really cool? Yeah, we saw him too. So after a round (or two) of shots at the very last stop at 3 in the morning, we decided to call it a night. Check-in guy (names will not be disclosed) walked with us back to the hostel, since that was where he lived, and to our surprise, the lounge was bumping with people. After dumping our purses (and apparently a bag of goldfish) in our room, we joined the fuseball-playing, karaoke-singing, PBR-drinking crowd in the lounge.
Before we knew it, it was five o'clock in the morning, and Rachelle was demanding food, and because she's a chef and was hungry, she decided to cook spaghetti. At five o'clock in the morning. With a guy we named Washington who walked around without shoes, even though it was at least 25 degrees outside. It was probably the best spaghetti I have ever had. Maybe because it was five o'clock in the morning.
With full bellies, we stumbled up to our room in the wee hours of the morning, crunching on goldfish and running into one of our very sleepy neighbors who was very confused as to why we were walking around so early in the morning. He only became more confused when he found out we were just going to sleep.
And then came Friday morning. We rolled out of bed sometime around 11, completely regretting the lack of sleep and the last shots of the night. We trudged downstairs and found our neighbors occupying the couches in the lounge, where we sat and chatted before deciding that our stomachs might eat themselves if we didn't feed them. But since I had woken with the *coughcough* flu *coughcough* I couldn't make it to the lunch escapade, and instead hung out with our Michigan friends. After Rachelle and Arielle returned, we walked around in the light of day, stopping to by milkshakes (those crazy Michigan guys and their cold drinks on that very cold day) and talking and joking about anything and everything. The evening arrived and we split ways, the guys to their hockey game and us to dinner. Afterwards, we met up downtown and followed them (and our Australian friends) to a dueling piano bar.
We weren't sure what to expect, having spent all of our time in Nashville in honkey tonk bars (like you're supposed to) but we were pleasantly surprised. Those guys were seriously awesome, playing any song thrown their way, not only on the piano, but on the drums, the guitar, and singing. Talk about talented, but who isn't in Nash Vegas? After going to a few more bars, we made our way back to the hostel where we disturbed the peace until four in the morning. Check-in guy had to tell us to keep it down (who was he to talk, anyways?), Arielle lost our room key, which landed us locked out of our room until the next morning, and in some very uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.
On Saturday, we woke up with heavy eyes from lack of sleep and heavy hearts with the knowledge that we would be leaving Nashville in just a few hours time. We packed up our stuff in record time (we were used to it by then) and helped the messy Michigan boys pack theirs, and took off for breakfast. The Last Supper. A damn good meal, too. And even though we had only known them for two short days, the Michigan boys had become our friends. And even though Nashville had only been our home for a mere week, the farther away from it we got, the more misplaced we felt. The drive home was long but beautiful, serving only to remind us of the beauty we miss out on. Mountains and cliffs and waterfalls and miles and miles and miles of blue-tinged trees.
|This is what happens after seven hours in a car.|
We stopped in South Georgia for the night only to wake up and continue our drive home. Crossing the state line was like crossing into a different world. We went from barren and brown to alive and green. We began to see Florida in a different light. Is this what people see when they come here for the first time? we thought. Everything was just so green. Even the sky seemed bluer, the clouds crisper. When we stepped out of the car at Rachelle's house, we could literally smell the ocean in the air. And it smelled good. It smelled like home. It was hard to believe we were back, and even harder to believe it had only been ten days since we left. It felt like weeks had passed, and I was ready to go home.
Nashville left a mark on our hearts, put a dent in our souls. It opened our eyes, made us see how much bigger the world was. Even though at first it seemed like it was leaps and bounds better than crabby ol' West Palm Beach, I think it also made us realize just what we have. It made us realize that home is only as good as the people in it, and the people in our home are real good.
With all that said, CHEERS to Nash Vegas road trip 2014! Who's in?