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Two Tennessee Trips Later…

Remember at the beginning of my Asheville video when I put a giant suitcase in my car, but it didn’t really make sense because I was only going to be there for 36-ish hours? Well, that incredibly large suitcase was for the week I would be spending in Nashville, Tennessee after my mini Asheville vacation.


Besides a quick 48-hour surprise trip in April to surprise my grandparents for their anniversary, it’s been six months since I’ve seen my immediate family. The perfect amount of time to grow up and to grow homesick.

I made it to Nashville on Father’s Day, after having an emotional breakdown in Advanced Auto Parts and making the employee crazy uncomfortable. Asheville to Nashville is a little less than a five-hour drive, and it was an [unnecessary] emotional rollercoaster.

On the way into town, I visited my younger sister (I still can’t believe she’s adult enough to have an apartment). From there, I went to my dad’s house—since it was Father’s Day—and ended up staying there for three nights.

It rained the entire first part of the week I was in town, which was the case for when I drove to meet my friends on Monday. I am fortunate enough to be friends with the coolest family. I met Janaie through her husband, and our first meeting was at the worst possible time (when I was moving states). In my opinion, it was an instant click, and though I’ve technically known her husband longer, I always go to Janaie. They have the most beautiful daughter, a bundle of energy with a pure heart and curious mind. I can’t turn back time, but I wish I had hung out with them a lot more; there wasn’t a moment when I felt like I was third wheeling or intruding on private family moments.

Now that I’ve raved about how amazing they are, the four of us got German food at a local mall. Me being me, I ordered the most American dish on the menu—pulled pork with fries.

Tuesday was for the boys. I started the day early with going to my brother’s (on my mom’s side) basketball game; we won’t talk about the score. Then, I took the two brothers from my dad’s side to the movies, where my youngest brother chose Transformers: Rise of the Beasts over Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (I know, right). I ended the day attending my youngest brother’s two basketball games, which he won both of.

On Wednesday, I spent some quality time with my grandfather, and considering he’s my rock, it was very necessary. I ended the day at my aunt’s house, which is where I experienced the most relaxation. As I’ve said before, around my aunt is where I feel the safest to be all of myself.

Thursday and Friday held afternoon lunches with coworkers-turned-friends. A burger from Five Guys was lunch for Thursday, and a pizza with mac & cheese on the side from Panera Bread was lunch for Friday.

My weekly mental breakdown hit me on Thursday morning. I was overcome with loneliness and was reminded of why I was desperate to leave Tennessee. Also, I wasn’t a fan of being asked to do a task that resembled work while I was on vacation; changing furniture around in someone’s room is different when it’s voluntary.

Friday night was spent with my close friend, and we started watching Love Island (I have been sucked into another reality show); I love chill nights where we just talk and catch up while eating three different types of ice cream (gelato, in the case of the Noosa treat). Then we woke up Saturday morning to go skydiving, which I discussed in my last Spaces & Places piece, so I won’t go into detail here. I never get sad saying goodbye to her because I know I’ll see her again; I feel confident in our bond.

To finish out the trip, I made sure I got quality time in with my grandmother by doing her favorite activity: shopping. My grandmother is pretty much a mother to me, in more ways than one, and after both of us spent the week being semi-busy, I treasure those few hours we had together.

East Tennessee

Coming back to no job after driving eight hours to get to no-longer-existent job solidified my plans to spend the 4th of July weekend in East Tennessee. It is home to both of my grandparents’ families and is where I went to school (in case you forgot, though I’ve mentioned it numerous times).

This trip to East Tennessee gave me a harsh lesson in maturity and showed me just how immature I am. Though I have an old soul, as many people like to tell me, and though I’ve done a lot of growing up the past couple of years, I definitely still have a long way to go with maturity, in every aspect of my life. Being mature is about more than not laughing at the unintentional innuendos and resisting saying “That’s what she said” after every other sentence.

I said one wrong thing at the wrong time in front of the wrong audience, and my mental health was shot for the rest of the trip. I had a couple of sleepless nights because my heart rate was so high from the impending anxiety attack. I was not in a good state when I drove back to North Carolina, to say the least.

Before it went south, I was in ultimate vacay mode. Not counting the sleepless nights, I got some of the best sleep I’ve had in a LONG time. I took time repeating the same updates to varying family members, which was mostly nice. I finished a book (review coming soon), finished a movie I didn’t know I started (Through My Window: Across the Sea), wrote for the blog, and ate unpleasant food while catching up with a friend (we both know to never go back).

My favorite thing about going to East Tennessee is learning about my family history, and though I often get confused, it’s so beautiful learning about very distant or deceased relatives. I looked through some old photo albums while I was in town and was immediately nostalgic; I wanted to do nothing but hug my grandmother when I was finished.

Considering I had breakdowns in both parts of Tennessee, it’s going to be some months before I visit family in person again. To be completely transparent, it is so easy for me to feel like an outcast in my family, both my immediate and extended family.

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