Long ago, in what feels like another life, I wrote a song about visiting back home after I’d moved to Nashville. I was an 18 year old, sitting in a writing room on Music Row with two co-writers in their late 40’s, telling them how weird I felt going back to Belleville, Michigan because it didn’t feel like me anymore.
“I move like a stranger through my own past
‘Cause the only thing harder than leaving is going back”
I was a kid who didn’t know shit, but I sure could write songs like I did (ha).
It’s wild how full circle life can get because here I am tonight, feeling very similiar to what I felt in that writing room over a decade ago. Only now, the destinations have reversed.
In less than 48 hours, I’ll be driving from Detroit down to Nashville. I can feel a lurch in my chest just typing that and reading it back – what my anxiety levels will be making the actual trip should be fun (especially for my husband).
I made the decision to move back to Detroit about 5 years ago, and it was a game-changing move all the way around. For the first 3 years of my relocation back to Detroit, I made trips to Nashville consistently every 4-6 weeks to continue writing, singing demos, and playing writer’s nights. I met and married me a Michigan boy and made all of our family and friends travel to Tennessee for our wedding. Music started taking off for me in Detroit, but I still had my foundation in Nashville. When the TIDAL Unplugged opportunity came by way in 2019, I did all my TIDAL recordings and promo in Nashville.
I was living the best of both worlds and it felt like I didn’t have to choose one over the other. I could still be my ‘good time’ self, up too late with friends and then in the studio all day the next day recording. And after burning it from both ends for a week, I could come back to Michigan jump back into walking the dogs with my husband everyday, watching my little nieces and nephews, taking care of my Granny, trying to make connections and create opportunities for myself in Detroit.
Like everybody throughout the rest of the world – the year 2020 changed how I did everything and how I continue to do everything.
In February 2020, I was 3 months post-hysterectomy due to cervical cancer and one month post-radiation treatments. I was in Nashville to film a music video for my 2nd TIDAL Unplugged single. Less than 3 weeks after we completed the video, the world shut down.
I have been to Nashville twice since then. Twice in over 2 years.
A huge reason I’ve stayed away is the pandemic, yes.
Just as big of a reason is when the roots of my Nashville family tree, Kim & Susan (my “momagers” since Day 1), sold their house in the summer of 2020.
With Susan’s health declining and the world (and music business) put on a big indefinite pause, they decided to move back to Texas to be closer to family. From that moment on, Nashville has never pulled me back the same. I guess what made Nashville feel like my home was more a them thing than the place itself…so consequently, home left Nashville when they did.
And now I’m going back because Susan is gone and it’s only right to honor the huge part of her and her story that was Nashville. Also, it was my idea in the first place to have a Nashville memorial so I think that means I definitely have to face the music. Literally.
It feels like a “Goodbye” of massive proportion.
Goodbye to a woman who loved me, believed in me, and unfailingly supported me like I was her daughter. Goodbye to the girl who was always searching and rarely certain.
Together through several office and studio moves, many vacations and even more stages – 15 years of memories that I can see just as vividly today as I could then.
This trip to Nashville feels like admitting that those days are gone and can’t be replicated. I wish I would’ve know that then. I would’ve been better.
Wouldn’t we all.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be so happy to see old friends, hug and cry with them as we remininsce. I am certain that however it is I’m feeling right now will be lifted once I stand in the presence of Susan’s light and speak with others that loved her too. She’ll always have that way about her. I trust that there will be much sun in our sadness, and we will shine brighter for having had her in our lives.
While I’ve never been good with endings, I know you have to end one thing in order to begin another. So I’m facing my fear of Goodbye because Susan knows as well as I do – when a new chapter awaits, you get to writing.
See you soon, Tennessee.